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Q&A with Haas F1 Team Principal, Gunther Steiner

Q&A with Haas F1 Team Principal, Gunther Steiner

08 – October – 2014 – Guenther Steiner at Stewart-Haas Racing (Photographer: HHP/Garry Eller)

With a 2016 season launch on the way, Haas F1 Team recently announced that they plan to name their two drivers by September of this year.  Meanwhile, a lot of work has been happening behind the scenes to bring their maiden entry to life.  To give a clearer idea of the team’s progress and what America’s newest Formula 1 team has set out to do, principal Gunther Steiner today sat down to give an update on where the team is in their development of the car, and to share his focus on bringing the right people on board Haas F1 Team:

GS:  We have all main our technical people in place now, the logistics people are based in England and in Italy we have the chief designer in place where we are developing the car.  In the United States we have got the CFD group working, and have begun production of metal parts.  The administration for the team is also in North Carolina, where the headquarters for Haas F1 Team are located.

Having set up new teams in NASCAR and F1 in the past, does one set of experiences stand out as more of a help in your current role than another?

GS:  In the end it’s always about people, and finding the right people. Equipment you can buy, and you need to know your lead times.  Finding the right people is always the key to any organization, and it’s very similar to either [NASCAR or Formula 1].

How would you explain to potential sponsors what Haas F1 Team is about?

GS:  I think that the most difficult thing to explain to somebody is how are you going to be successful when the last four [Amercian F1 team] attempts have stalled or failed.  We have a different approach with a strong partner in Ferrari, and the change in regulations has made it so we can now buy components from another constructor while we develop our own chassis and bodywork.  We will not be faced with [starting a team] as a complete unknown because we have a good mechanical partner [in Haas CNC].

We can’t forget that Haas CNC is a successful company, and if we don’t find a sponsor next year it’s not like we can’t pay our team salaries.  Gene Haas understands motorsport, and like every business if you have been in it for a while, you know what you are doing, if you’ve not been in it, you make mistakes.  I think there’s a lot of key ingredients with Gene, who has motorsport experience from his championship winning NASCAR team and a very successful machine tool company, so it’s not like we’re starting from nothing.

What are the team’s goals for the first few seasons?

GS:  We want to be respectable.  You always set your goals high, and we want to be in the points.  If you don’t dream of it, you don’t achieve it.

Peter Habicht is a freelance writer and journalist in Formula 1 and has been involved with the sport’s growth in America since 2005.