Haas F1 team principal Guenther Steiner admits pit stops have been an area of focus for the American team this winter after last year’s disastrous Australian Grand Prix.
With Haas looking set to finish with both cars in the top five in Melbourne last season, pit stop errors resulted in both cars retiring immediately after leaving the pit lane for their only stops of the race. Having lost out on significant points, Steiner says the lessons learned in 2018 have meant pit stop practice has been high on the team’s agenda throughout pre-season.
“We obviously haven’t forgotten last year’s pit stops in Australia, which went wrong,” Steiner said. “This year we’ve put a lot of emphasis on arriving there prepared. We brought a 2018 car to our car build in Italy so we could train every day and work on pit stops. We did the same in Barcelona, as the current car is not always available for pit stop practice when you test. Every day the whole crew practiced around 10 to 12 pit stops a day.”
The 2019 Haas car looked quick during the two pre-season tests in Barcelona, but Steiner says he is not setting the team any targets for this year until he has a sample size of the opening few races.
“The test, in general, was good. We had a few small problems, which we can address before Australia. Obviously, we test to find these problems and, hopefully, we’ve found them all. Performance-wise, it’s too early to say how we’ll go in Australia. We have to wait until we go into qualifying on Saturday.
“We’ll know after qualifying where we are. The long-term performance for 2019, we’ll only find that out after we’ve started a few races.”
Refraining from predicting where Haas will be in Australia, Romain Grosjean says he was encouraged by the way the car handles and responds during testing, giving the team a solid platform to work from in 2019.
“It went very well,” Grosjean said. “The most important thing was to get a good feeling in the car early on. When you get that good feeling, you know the car is well born. That’s important to start the season — to be able to start on a high. It went well.
“Reliability, we had a few issues, but we’ve been working well to sort them out. I believe we’re now ready to attack the first race in Australia. Obviously, there’s always more and more you want to do, but then it’s becoming circuit-specific. Now it’s about getting the baseline setup in Melbourne and then fine tuning for Bahrain, China and so on.”