After arriving a week ago, this Thursday in Melbourne has given teams some time to share thoughts on the new season, and Haas F1 Team principal Guenther Steiner spoke with ambition and caution after only just building the team’s second car ahead of their inaugural race.
Since Winter testing finished last month, Steiner mentioned that there have been a few tweaks to prevent cooling issues, and no changes to the cars’ “go fast” parts. Even after a mixed second week of testing (electrical problems and a turbo related issue limited track time), performance capabilities are beginning to be understood as the team pushes ahead with their chief mechanical and engine supplier, Ferrari.
Several Ferrari personnel are here to oversee their portion of the car’s components, and currently make up the roughly 60 Haas F1 Team members at the race. Not including contractors, the number is roughly 110 with the factory included, with an additional 70 from chassis manufacturer Dallara and affiliated contractors. A small total by comparison to the other teams in the paddock.
So how does Steiner expect the team to perform this weekend?
Points are possible, however testing didn’t reveal an optimum setup for Steiner: “…the car is a good platform, but we have to find the right setup.”
Teams are generally managing more unknowns than knowns at the start of the season, and for Haas the goal this weekend is to progress with an open mind, while gathering as much data and validation on the car’s strengths and the team’s ability to work together towards the best possible result.
Luck may play a part, however, as new qualifying rules could provide an opening for teams which get it right – and this year’s format is new for everyone. A recent change to regulations makes for a timed elimination portion of sessions which is untried by teams and fans alike.
“For us the new qualifying system is better . . . I know that we can mess it up, but so can the others” says Steiner. Established teams don’t just have to run through a program on Saturday that they’re already familiar with, so new qualifying this weekend may be an equalizer if, as he says, “the stars align”.