Haas team principal Guenther Steiner says his team is close to the fight for fourth in the constructors’ championship but much depends unlocking a final 0.2s.
The midfield battle has looked extremely close heading into the new season, and FP2 for the Australian Grand Prix hinted that will be the case on Sunday. 1.3 seconds covered Max Verstappen in third to Lando Norris in 18th, with Haas right in the middle of that battle with Romain Grosjean 10th and Kevin Magnussen 12th.
2018 saw Haas show the pace to finish with both cars in the top five but pit stop errors ultimately cost the team any points. With such a close midfield, Steiner says the potential exists for Haas to replicate last season’s form but similarly drop back significantly if it can’t perfect its car.
“The feeling is similar to last year,” Steiner said. “We are confident, but we don’t know the last two tenths, and the last two tenths you cannot find out until you actually go and race.
“So even tomorrow morning you get a little bit more of an indication because we know what we’re doing, what other people are doing and can hear on the radio what they are doing, but there’s no point speculating now. We just wait for 24 hours and then we know. That’s nice, huh? Keeps it interesting.”
While there was plenty of similar running between teams during Friday’s two practice sessions, Steiner says the first day in Melbourne simply reinforced the competitive picture he’d seen during testing.
“We didn’t learn anything, just got confirmation of what we saw in testing. I think the pecking order that we saw in testing is real. You see it a little bit better now because you see who goes out on full attack and who doesn’t. You get the GPS data and you think you know what other people are doing.”