Guenther Steiner has grown tired of ‘Ferrari B-team’ talk: ‘Like a broken record’

Toby Miles
Guenther Steiner making a point. Red Bull Ring July 2022.

Guenther Steiner making a point during a press conference. Red Bull Ring July 2022.

Guenther Steiner has claimed he is immune to jabs from rivals on Haas’ relationship with Ferrari, rubbishing paddock naysayers’ “B-team” claims. 

It has been a dramatic and draining run of Formula 1 seasons for team principal Steiner. The US-backed team had to survive the shock exit for sponsor Rich Energy and funding scrambles, plus a disappointing 2021 campaign and the saga surrounding Nikita Mazepin and Uralkali’s departure ahead of the 2022 season.

Then, Haas’ instant return to point-scoring form in 2022 – Kevin Magnussen finishing fifth on his F1 comeback in Bahrain – brought an all-too familiar talking point back to the surface.

The likes of Mercedes principal Toto Wolff, Alpine’s Otmar Szafnauer and McLaren’s Andreas Seidl have all alluded to Haas’ close ties to Ferrari, proposing the FIA have a re-think over their policies on B-teams.

Since slotting onto the grid in 2016, Haas’ strategy of buying as many parts from engine supplier Ferrari as the rules permit has irked their rivals. Prior to the introduction of a cost cap in F1, Haas’ budget was dwarfed by the major teams and working closely with Ferrari has allowed them to maximise performance for a fraction of the price.

Steiner and Co have always operated an open-door policy on the partnership, which has seen the development of a ‘Haas hub’ at Ferrari’s Maranello base, with multiple staff members having transferred across from F1’s most successful team to its customer.

The likes of Wolff have never submitted a complaint to the FIA, who monitor the partnership situation closely. Steiner continues to brush off the topic.

“We have got used to it,” the team principal said, as per Motorsport-Total in Germany. “If you’re good, you’re a copycat, if you’re bad, nobody cares.

“It’s like, ‘alright, keep saying it, we’ve heard it before’. It’s a broken record. It doesn’t bother me. I don’t care at all.”

One relationship between two teams that did spark protests was that of Mercedes and Racing Point (now Aston Martin), when the latter produced a 2020 machine dubbed the ‘pink Mercedes’ for its resemblance to the German team’s W10 from the previous season. recommends

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Racing Point were docked 15 Constructors’ points and fined £359,000 for copying the Mercedes’ brake ducts. However, the technology was allowed to remain on the car, which Sergio Perez used to become one of only five 2020 race winners in Abu Dhabi.

Back in April 2022, as quoted by Racer, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff called for changes from the top and referenced the Haas/Ferrari ties: “I think it needs to reform because we want to avoid the kind of discussions that we have had. Everybody deserves to perform well and people should get credit when they have done a good job.

“But some of the job-hopping, or entity-hopping, on the same premises is just creating arguments that are not necessary for the sport. We have Aston Martin in the windtunnel that, two years ago, we had quite a storm about. We have been handling that with the utmost diligence.

“But going forward, if we were to need to compromise our income ability, we need to do this because none of the teams should be able to co-operate in a way that we’re seeing with some.”

Haas are hoping to take another step forward in 2023 after lifting themselves from rock-bottom to eighth in the Constructors’ Championship last season. Now, they have enlisted Nico Hulkenberg to replace Mick Schumacher and brought in a new title sponsor.

The team will henceforth be known as MoneyGram Haas F1 Team and Steiner is optimistic an injection of funds from the financial services company will boost them up the pack.

“In 2020, it was not an easy position because of the pandemic when it broke out,” Steiner said. “But I think, yes, it puts us in a very solid position.

“When we joined in 2016, there was no budget cap, so you are much lower than the other teams, even if you are in a good financial situation. But now, even compared to the others, we are very competitive financially – not competitive, we are equal.”