Haas team principal Guenther Steiner believes his team has learned from its struggles in Bahrain in order to be more competitive at the Chinese Grand Prix.
An impressive opening round in Melbourne for the team was followed by a strange performance in Bahrain, where Romain Grosjean retired early on and Kevin Magnussen qualified just 0.005s off Max Verstappen but then faded to finish the race outside of the points. Steiner says the car’s use of its tires was to blame for the poor race pace, and is cautiously optimistic there will be no repeat.
“I wouldn’t know why not,” Steiner said about Haas’ chances of being strong in China. “We know that we made a mistake in Bahrain, and we are not planning to repeat it. We were fast in qualifying in Bahrain and Australia, so I don’t see that the car has a problem. I think it was more (about) our management of the tires in the race.
“Then again, after a race like this, I wouldn’t say that you gain confidence — you lose it. So I’m a little bit… I wouldn’t say careful, because I go back to Saturday in Bahrain, we were very good. I don’t see any big issue, but we need to get the best out of the car, and that we still have to do.
“I cannot be arrogant or too positive about it. We need to work hard to get the best out of the car to get back into a situation where we can race like we did in Australia.”
Steiner credits the two-day test in Bahrain after the last race as crucial to getting an understanding of where Haas went wrong.
“The pace was going away. We were lucky to have a test afterwards and it looks like we didn’t manage the tires in a good way. So I hope we found the cause and we don’t repeat it, that’s the aim. We just lost the performance. The tires didn’t work after a few laps, and then we lost our pace over the race.
“If you go back to last year, Toro Rosso was very fast in Bahrain. I think if you fall into a perfect window with the tire, you can be very fast — or very slow, like us! Obviously it goes both ways; we went the wrong way.
“Tire management as always is very important. But it just looks to me that Bahrain is more difficult than other ones. I think we missed it in Bahrain. Not I think, I know we did, because we are still finishing the race very slow.
“We tried different scenarios (during the test) and it looks like we understand the problem now. Now when we are in a similar situation, we need to address it to get the tire in the window.”