Steiner: 2022 F1 rules mean anyone can aim for world championship


F1's 2022 regulations can help Haas back to competitiveness says team boss Guenther Steiner, and it could make or break the team's future

Haas 2022 F1 car

Haas F1

There are a few hundred people working for Haas F1 who are hoping the only way is up for the American team in 2022.

It arrived in F1 as a capable midfield team punching above its weight but that underdog status has faded. Last year, the Haas cars usually trailed home last and last but one.

For the sake of its F1 future, it has to make strides forward this season, so with a blank slate arriving in the form of the 2022 regulations and a coinciding restriction in spending, might Gene Haas’s team be on the up once more?

Team principal Guenther Steiner sacrificed the 2021 season, moving the team’s development focus entirely to this year’s car in an effort to get a headstart on the competition.

He says that the ambition isn’t just to move up the grid but to eventually join the battle up front for the world championship, aided by the new rules,

“I don’t want to have a failure and Gene didn’t want to have a failure,” Steiner told Motor Sport during the latest podcast in the My Big Break series.

“We got kicked to last in 2020 and last year, with the pandemic, we made a step backwards instead of making steps forward.

“But up to that point, we made good steps forward, we stabilised everything by finishing eighth twice and then finishing fifth. And then we made a big step backwards at ’20 and ’21. Now we have to come up, now we have to go forward again, first baby steps and then the big step.

“What should help is the budget cut, because now the playing field is a lot more level than it was a year ago. So there is a realistic chance that you can get world champion, mid-to-long term.”

While Haas might not be attempting to win its first title in 2022, the levelling of the playing field will certainly go a long way in helping to curb spending where previously the American team struggled to compete with rivals.

‘If I would have known how difficult this is, I would have not taken the risk to do this’

Further restrictions around wind tunnel and CFD design times means that the last-placed team in 2021 will have 50% more development time for this year than constructors’ champion Mercedes.

The Haas team boss says that without the new regulations, Haas may not have even been on the grid for 2022 such was the boss’s position on Formula 1.

“It was a very tough time because in beginning of 2020 when the pandemic started, some people spent over half a billion, you know, and that didn’t make sense anymore for anybody. It was just rising and rising, there was no cost cap in place, the pandemic came along, we didn’t know if we go racing or if there would be any FOM funds coming to us, there was too many uncertainties.

Related article

“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.


Steiner hopes that the 2022 regs can put Haas back into contention

Grand Prix Photo

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.