Haas had to fight back against disgruntled rivals because it is the newest team on the grid, according to team principal Guenther Steiner.
The likes of Williams and Force India had openly questioned the Haas model of purchasing so many parts from Ferrari in the past, but this year Renault protested the legality of a part of its car in Italy, resulting in Romain Grosjean being excluded from sixth place. An ongoing dispute over prize money after Force India entered administration eventually led to Haas lodging a protest of its own in Abu Dhabi, and Steiner says the controversies were a sign of his team rattling cages.
“I’m not proud of going to the stewards and having to use lawyers,” Steiner told RACER. “I’m not proud of that. But I think it has to do with (performance), and sometimes when you are a small team you have to stand up for yourselves, you cannot just be a pushover. We have to fight — in a good way on the racetrack.
“We ended up involved in a few things but for sure it has to do with the fact that we are performing at a level that nobody expects that we should be performing. That doesn’t help us. But when you are new, you have to go through this phase when you are establishing yourself; it’s a normal thing.
“If a new boy comes to the school, who gets beaten up? It’s him. You just need to defend yourself.”
Although Haas was faced with a number of incidents that involved protests or trips to the stewards, Steiner says he made it a priority to try and limit the impact on the majority of the team.
“I think I’ve had 50% of the paddock’s share of distractions! We are the smallest team but we had the biggest share!
“What I try to do is to make sure it distracts mainly me, and I normally keep a very small and very efficient group of people to not get into a committee stage of what we’re going to do next, because I don’t like that. It’s not efficient and then it is very distracting because the bigger the group is, the more they speak and the bigger the group grows.
“Like with the Renault protest — there was four of us and that was it. Everybody was well informed why we did it like we did it, just so that the other guys didn’t get distracted. I just tried to keep distractions to a minimum. It’s always distracting but how much? I don’t know.”