Haas team principal Guenther Steiner admits podiums are only a dream for his team heading into the new Formula 1 season, and believes it will need a lot of luck if it is to achieve one.
Outside of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, only one other team has scored a podium in each of the past two seasons, with Williams and Force India – now Racing Point – picking up a solitary top-three finish in 2017 and 2018 respectively. Haas fought Renault for fourth in the constructors’ championship last season and looked competitive again in pre-season testing, but Steiner says that recent history suggests that a podium is an unrealistic goal.
“The target is to be better than last year,” Steiner said. “Whatever that is, you always try to improve and to match last year’s position and hopefully go one better.
“[A podium] is a dream. If we could make it, that would be nice. I would say last year in Baku without the accident we could have got close to it. So hopefully it is our season. Last year, luck was not a lot on our side. So maybe it turns and we get lucky. But if everything goes normal, nobody can reach the podium except for the top three teams.
“Sometimes there are things happening in a race where you can make it, and if you are there after the three big teams, you can pick it up. But you need to be there all the time. You need to be consistently in that fourth spot as a team to get to the podium.”
This season’s introduction of the new aerodynamic regulations appears to have closed the gap between the midfield and the top three teams, but Steiner is expecting a similar margin to open up at this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.
“It looks like it at the moment, but if you ask me for objective measurements, I don’t have them because they are not out. There is always the fuel amount and the engine mode playing a role, so it looks like it is a little bit closer. But after we get to Melbourne, it will be very close to like it was last year.”