“The board decided really to lay low now for this year and see what is coming. And then thankfully, the budget cap came; the new concorde agreement with better [financial] distribution for the smaller teams and then Gene decided, ‘yeah, let’s continue’.”
So if the 2022 Haas is more competitive than in recent seasons, will the American team be committed to an F1 future?
The team’s long-term plans have been rocky in the past according to Steiner but the recent regulation changes have worked in its favour. He says that without Haas’s continued determination to turn things around, the team might have ceased to exist before it even raced.
“At some stage, once we were established in 2016, Gene said to me, ‘If I would have known how difficult this is, I would have not taken the risk to do this’. But in the end it happened. So it’s all good. Well, yeah, it ain’t good.”
Haas has regressed since its fifth place finish in the constructors’ championship in 2018. It was pushed back to ninth in subsequent years and finished last in 2021.
Despite that, the team has persevered with backing from Haas and title sponsor Uralkali, courtesy of Nikita Mazepin’s father Dmitri.
Rumours circulated last year that Haas was considering a sale of the team to the Mazepin family, but with the necessary funding and the new regulations potentially resetting the competitive order there still appears to be a determination from the Kannapolis, North Carolina outfit
‘The biggest hurdle in doing this is finding somebody like Gene, who believes in the project, can do it, wants to do it and then supports you. That is the biggest hurdle because there’s a lot of people coming in and saying, ‘Oh, I will do this different and why you don’t do this like this?’
“I explained how we are doing it. He was always okay with my plan. And there is not one big problem. There is a lot of small problems. I think the biggest thing is to stay positive and always keep on working on the small problems, because then no big one can come up.
“The challenge has never stopped for me, you know, but I see them positively because they make you have to work hard, but it’s positive work. For me, a challenge is an opportunity. I learn a lot of things. I get to know a lot of new people, I get to learn a lot of new skills, deal with different situations, difficult ones.
“This just keeps you engaged, keeps you busy. I don’t mind that. I mean, sometimes I think why actually I do all this, you know, but I think it’s it’s mainly the passion for motor sport and the challenges. I think it’s a mix of that just a business challenge and interlock for what I’m doing, because I still like going racing.”
The team’s 2022 unveiling showed off the new livery but the car itself is a preliminary version of what it’s expecting to run in testing and the opening round of the season in Bahrain.
For Haas, the real thing needs to be a marked step forward from its previous few creations or else it may be looking for alternative ownership in the near future.