Haas team principal Guenther Steiner believes his team has all of the tools to fight for fourth place in the constructors’ championship this season.
In its second season in Formula 1, Haas matched its debut performance of eighth place overall but scored nearly double the amount of points, despite switching focus to its 2018 car early. That move appears to have paid off so far, with the car looking competitive in preseason testing and delivering lap times that suggest it could battle at the front of the midfield at the start of the year.
Asked if there is any reason why the team can’t be in fight for best of the rest behind Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull this year, Steiner told RACER: “No.
“We want to be, hopefully. We should be able to be in it, then we could be able to. Last year we finished eighth but we were in the hunt for sixth. It was eight points, it isn’t great but it wasn’t a disaster. We were in there with everyone else who wanted it and maybe we came up a little bit short. Some you lose, some you win.
“There is no weak team here anymore. It’s quite demanding at the moment. It’s one of the most competitive seasons in F1 for a long period of time. Take the first three out who are in a different league, but the rest is very competitive, very close together. Just to look good and not having the points doesn’t help at the end of the year.”
Team owner Gene Haas has set the team the target of being within half a second of Ferrari based on the partnership it enjoys with the Scuderia, and Steiner has no problem in taking on that challenge.
“I think we have to aim high. For him, he gave us an opportunity, he has to be demanding. He’s not here to be last, and neither am I. So he sets a high target. It is difficult – I am not saying ‘Oh we will do that easily Gene!’ – it is high but he’s in a position where he can set that target and if we don’t achieve it then he’s entitled to do whatever he wants to do afterwards.
“We’ve worked hard and we made progress. Let’s see in Australia what it brings us but I think it’s a good target to have. We need to be ambitious. If you’re not ambitious in this sport you never get anything done. It is very difficult and he gave us a great opportunity.”