Haas team principal Guenther Steiner believes the budget cap being introduced in 2021 will convince Gene Haas to remain in Formula 1.
The Haas F1 owner has been vocal about his concerns regarding an uneven playing field in the sport, with the teams that have been in the sport the longest getting financially rewarded for their history. On top of that, spending levels for the big teams have been more than double what Haas allocates for F1. But with a budget cap coming into force starting at $145 million next season, Steiner is confident the changes that have been approved will convince his team owner to commit.
“I think it’s a good thing, the budget cap, for the sport in general, even if it is not completely equal with everybody,” Steiner said. “We know that we will still be under the budget cap, but it is a very good step. Now the difference will not be $150m to the big teams, but maybe $20m.
“Also, to break even… there is a chance to do that for the future. I think you need to do a good job to break even. I’m sure some people can even make money on it. The big teams, if they can keep the sponsorship they’ve got and the distribution of the prize fund, it will be a lot more equal in the new commercial agreement, there is a chance to do that.
“That is our aim for sure, that needs to be my aim – to make it break even for Mr. Haas. And if I make that happen, he will sign the Concorde Agreement. But first of all we haven’t yet seen the Concorde Agreement or the commercial agreement – we know roughly what it looks like – but that should come in the next weeks or months. I don’t know exactly when, but FOM had to wait to get all the budget caps through and that’s why it took a step back, but it will be coming.
“Then once we get it Mr. Haas can decide what he wants to do, but at the moment his intention is to stay in the sport. But before it is signed I cannot say ‘this is what is going to happen’, as the team is owned 100 per cent by him and not by anybody else, and he can make the decisions and we go from there.
“But I’m very positive about where we are now. We are getting through this difficult period with the coronavirus, we are doing the right thing, we live within our means, and therefore I think Haas is here to stay.”
While Steiner is pleased with the changes made by the sport to try and make running a team a more viable proposition, he says the fact that Williams is open to a sale and McLaren is evaluating selling shares should remind F1 to be proactive when it comes to further steps.
“I would say we shouldn’t react, we should look a bit more forward,” he said. “What I hope from this pandemic is that we need to have a bit of margin, a safety net. We didn’t have anything, we just ran into it. The good thing is, no-one panicked. How it is done now at least, everybody is thinking about how to do things right.
“Hindsight is always a beautiful thing, but I think how they react, it’s not in panic, it’s like, ‘OK, this is not sustainable now’. It’s always too late, the budget cap should have been done a few years before, and it was suggested, but what I hope we get out of this is that we don’t end up in this position again and we learn, and we keep some reserve fuel in the tank as it can happen again.
“Going forward, they are good teams, it’s a good opportunity for people out there to do a deal with them.”