Guenther Steiner has spoken of Haas’ struggles to stay afloat after the COVID pandemic hit Formula 1 in 2020.
Teams were at the track in Melbourne ready for the first race of the year when two McLaren team members tested positive for the virus and kickstarted a series of events that would see teams stuck at home.
In the end, the truncated 2020 season did not start until July as teams went into lockdown.
Guenther Steiner recalls 2020 Haas difficulties
The COVID pandemic had bigger impacts on the wider world than just F1 but in an expensive sport like F1, it left a huge hole in a lot of team’s budgets.
While some were more comfortable than others in absorbing the cost, the likes of Haas were up against it with no races to fill their wallets.
“[When] 2020 came and the pandemic came, we… I mean, I was told to close the team down,” Steiner told Autosport. “What were you doing there: you let people go, everything was shutdown. In 2021 we came back, but I mean we made not one step backwards in 2020, we made two back.
“Then coming back in 2021, people forget that you have to restart from new – because we had to find people again, we had to find new offices, we had to find all that stuff. Because everything that we built up with Dallara [which builds Haas’s F1 chassis] was lost – because we cancelled their contract in 2020. We didn’t do anything there, because we didn’t develop the car at all.”
2021 saw the team go in a new direction with Simone Resta coming from Ferrari and Steiner praised the work of the man who also recently left Haas.
“So, 2021, some of the people from Ferrari came over under Simone Resta [as technical director],” he said. “And I think Simone did a good job in building up a team in a very short period of time and then we finished eighth again in 2022.
“And then obviously in 2023 we missed the boat a little bit, but in competition that can happen. These were just really bad years, [but] there was always a reason why they were bad. And that needs to be, I think, explained a little bit. Because I think where Haas got kicked in the nuts was in 2020 when the team was ready to be shut down.
“When you shut down, it’s actually easier to start completely new than half new. Because then you had all the legacy, but half of the people were missing. And for sure, some of the good people were missing. So, we had to build up again, and building up costs energy, costs money – everything.
“Then obviously all the other teams started to build up their infrastructure in 2021 and 2022. They all started because [at the end of] 2020, the budget cap era started and they all started to build up and Haas didn’t.
“Therefore, it hangs all together. It’s not [that] all of a sudden everybody was stupid. Because I always say, ‘you don’t get stupid within a year’. It was just a lot of circumstances [that] people forget now, which happened in them years.”