Haas’ pace boost search has team looking at one rival for inspiration

Thomas Maher
Spa-Francorchamps: Haas' Guenther Steiner at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Guenther Steiner, team boss of Haas, at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Haas’ Guenther Steiner has said the recent improvements from McLaren are serving as extra motivation for his squad.

With the VFF-23 proving one of the less competitive cars in the field this year, particularly over a race distance, the recent improvements made by McLaren to vault up the order has proven eye-opening for the American squad.

McLaren struggled for pace during the opening third of the season, but came alive in recent races after rolling out a significant upgrade package via a concept change from the Austrian Grand Prix onwards.

Guenther Steiner: Hats off to McLaren for improvement

Having been left behind in the midfield as McLaren have vaulted up to become frontrunners after the introduction of the upgrades, Guenther Steiner joked that he’s now told the Haas engineers to just do what McLaren did.

“Yeah, I just told them and now they’re looking at them and we’ll be like McLaren next week!” he told media, including PlanetF1.com.

“We spoke about that in a positive way. That is, if you take the positives out, obviously we are not doing what McLaren is doing. A lot of teams are making upgrades and are still where they are.

“McLaren have done a very good job, you have to compliment people like this. But it shows you that, with the right, good work and a little bit of luck, it can be done.

“It’s not a thing that you say ‘I give up now’ and never get there. It has been done. And if something has been done, you can try to do that.

“We shouldn’t say ‘Oh, it is not possible’, because, then, we stay where we are. It is possible, and there is proof that it is possible.”

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Put to him that his engineers might feel under extra pressure as a result of seeing a rival team make such a leap, Steiner moved to say that it’s more about reassuring his team of their own abilities.

“I don’t think it’s pressure, it’s motivation. It’s not like putting pressure, saying ‘You need to do this this way’, that is too easy,” he said.

“But I think it’s motivation for people to show them that somebody did that, which means you can do it as well.

“How many times have you seen such a big step? Very few in the last 20 years, with an upgrade making such a big leap.

“There can be light at the end of the tunnel, this is not pressure – this is the opposite of pressure, saying, ‘Guys, you can do this as well’.”

But, given that Haas’ struggles, particularly with tyre degradation, are holding them back on race day, often after a strong qualifying performance, Steiner admitted the tough part is getting engineers to admit mistakes have been made.

“I think it’s very [difficult] because, if it is wrong, they didn’t make it intentionally wrong, they thought it was right,” he said.

“But if you see that, obviously, people handle the tyres differently, at some stage, you need to admit it’s wrong because we get the same tyres and wheels.

“Now everyone’s got the same wheels and tyres, so there must be something wrong with the car. Admission is the first step to getting better.”

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