Haas team principal Guenther Steiner fears their strong 2018 made the team “overconfident” for the following season.
The American outfit finished the 2018 campaign P5 in the Constructors’ Championship with 93 points, their best result since joining the grid in 2016, and they started last season off in style when Kevin Magnussen crossed the line P6 in Australia.
From Bahrain though it started to go downhill for the team and they would ultimately finish the season down in P9, scoring only 28 points.
Pirelli’s tyres were blamed in the early stages before Haas admitted defeat in understanding what was wrong with the VF-19, and Steiner thinks the team may have been “overconfident” going into the season.
Asked by Autosport if the second race in Bahrain flagged up Haas’ tyre problems for the first time, Steiner said: “No, that’s the first time it came to light that something isn’t right, and we found we could not manage the tyres.
“Then we tried to work with the tyre, tried to influence the tyre from the outside, instead of going down to see if we had an aero problem because the car was good in qualifying.
“Barcelona, again we weren’t sure if it worked or not, but when you get a good result you believe in it.
“Maybe by having these good results, in the beginning, we were a little bit blindsided, because having come off a season like 2018, which was very good, maybe we were a little bit overconfident – we just know it now.
“Not knowing where you are, you don’t react properly, and once you really understand what it is [causing the problems] – which was summer break time – it’s too late.
“After the summer break you don’t think of the race track anymore, we were just too far off. So it was better to go back and focus on 2020.”
Steiner has admitted previously that he should have listened to his drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean more in 2019, and he said they did start telling him something wasn’t right around the time of the Spanish GP.
“[In Spain] the result was good,” Steiner said about the Spanish GP where Haas recorded a double-points finish.
“We saw it again in qualifying, but not in the race because in the race we had [a crash]. So we didn’t figure out in the race what happened, but the car in Barcelona could have been strong.
“So maybe in Barcelona, we believed a little bit too much that the car is good everywhere. This car was good in Barcelona specifically. So at the time, the drivers said this is good.
“We were into Q3 and I think we qualified sixth or seventh there, pretty good. So how can we say this is not good?
“One of these things [is why] we thought it was maybe a little bit blinded by the 2018 results.”
“You know with hindsight, it’s easy to say I would react differently to what happened in Barcelona.
“I would say ‘guys, you need to get together here, something doesn’t stack up’.
“We believed the results more than the data and the drivers.”