Haas staff turnover was up 20% as people lacked belief in comeback

Sam Cooper
A close-up of the side of the Haas VF-22. Hungary, July 2022.

Guenther Steiner says around 20% more people than normal left Haas as they did not believe they had the ability to produce a comeback.

Haas effectively sacrificed their 2021 season in the hope that more time put into this year’s car, which came with a whole new set of regulations, would be a wise gamble. Because of this, they finished 2021 plum last in the Constructors’ Championship, the only team not to register a point.

With two rookies in the car in the form of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin plus forever lingering doubts over their financial survival, the future looked bleak for Haas and they really needed the 2022 season to be a success.

It turns out that success would come in the very first race. Kevin Magnussen, who had been dropped in at a moment’s notice to replace Mazepin, earned a P5 in his comeback race and scored more points for the team in one race than they had achieved in the last two full seasons combined.

 

 

While that high level of success has fallen off a little, the team are still regularly challenging for points and the VF-22 has proven itself as a quick car, especially in wet conditions. Haas team principal Steiner has revealed 20% more staff left the team when they were in the doldrums, but he does not hold a grudge.

“Some people left; I would say 20% more than normal turnover left,” Steiner told Racer. “There was more than one reason, but for sure some people didn’t believe we would come back.

“It was mainly people who were not there for a long time – most of the people who were there for a long time, they stayed, because I think they believe in the team and they like this team and the atmosphere; what we are doing. Most of them.

“We have got quite a good bunch of people who are still here since day one or day two. I think that shows that people believed in it, but I wouldn’t say it was difficult because I am always of the opinion that if somebody doesn’t want to stay then there’s no point holding them back.

“You can tell them, you can explain what we are going to go through, but I wouldn’t offer them money to stay if somebody doesn’t believe in it anymore. And I’m not getting upset, either – you just need to make the move, because some people left and some people now call us to ask if they can come back because they realised that the neighbour’s grass is actually not greener.

“So they went to other teams and then they called back saying ‘Oh, if there is an opening coming up, would you consider me?’. ‘Sure!’ If an opening is coming, I’m not a guy who holds a grudge. If you left because you thought somewhere was better or you made an improvement in your career which we cannot give you, fine with me.”

Read more: Red Bull’s sister team AlphaTauri are struggling to get the best out of their AT03 challenger.

“You’re gonna need a bigger boat” – Guenther Steiner and Haas’ great comeback

If you have ever spent any time on Twitter, you will have no doubt come across a picture of Guenther Steiner pictured next to an increasingly big boat.

The origin of the meme dates back to the latest series of Netflix’s Drive to Survive in which Steiner, in his seemingly eternal quest to secure funding, poses next to a children’s play boat for the German supermarket Aldi. The image went viral and soon Haas themselves had christened it the Steiner Ship and photoshopped a bigger boat every time the team did well.

The fact that the latest image is of Steiner next to a double decker sailboat is a physical representation of just how well the season is going.

Following on from Magnussen’s P5, the team picked up small but fairly consistent point tallies but found themselves beginning to lag behind as other teams brought upgrades, something Haas were unwilling to do.

But, in tandem with Schumacher’s form, the team turned a corner at the British Grand Prix. Having gone three races without both cars crossing the line, suddenly not only did both finish, but they did so within the points, the first points of Schumacher’s career.

They followed that up with P8 and P6 in Austria and demonstrated the car’s straight-line speed through Schumacher being able to hold off Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes for a good chunk of time in the sprint.

The upgrade package was eventually brought in for the Hungarian Grand Prix and while they failed to score points in the final race before the summer break, Magnussen is confident in stating he believes they have “hit the bullseye.”

The team are currently seventh in the Constructors’ table having secured 34 more points than they did in the entirety of the 2021 season. While attention will now turn to 2023, there is no reason to suggest they could not finish even higher come the end of the campaign.