Haas team principal Guenther Steiner wants Formula 1 to remember how it pulled together at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic to react quickly to try and safeguard the sport’s future.
With the Australian Grand Prix called off and then many European countries entering lockdown, F1 has been waiting for four months to start its 2020 season. In that time, a number of urgent regulation changes have been approved — including an extended mandatory shutdown period, the implementation of a budget cap and other immediate cost-saving measures — and Steiner wants all the stakeholders not to forget how everyone worked together for the good of the sport.
“There are always positives in everything,” Steiner said. “I would have liked to have made them under different circumstances, but I think the positives are everybody got together — the teams, F1 and the FIA, and we came up with ideas how to make the sport better going into the future.
“I hope then, in the future, we remember this time and don’t forget about it. I hope that we’re not just thinking about ourselves in three years and so on and not trying to do the best for the sport, both for the mid- to long-term future.”
Steiner admits it will be a special time getting back out on track to finally start racing after such a period of uncertainty, despite there currently being only eight confirmed races for 2020.
“The emotions will be pretty high because at some stage we didn’t know if we’d be continuing or not. The world seemed to be going downhill pretty quick in March; now four months later we get to go out racing again. Emotionally, for sure, it’ll be a good moment.
“It’s a new situation to have two races at the same track in the one year, especially one week after the other. We’ll have to see how it works out. Undoubtedly, we will learn a lot in the first weekend and hopefully what we learn we can put in place for the second weekend. I’m just really looking forward to being back out racing and getting the most out of both events.”
Although Haas has not been able to carry out a test with a current or older car in preparation for the first race in Austria, Kevin Magnussen believes the nature of F1 means it won’t be a significant disadvantage for the team.
“I don’t feel too nervous about it,” Magnussen said. “To give an example, in this time where we haven’t been racing, I’ve picked up karting again. It’s really been about 12 years since I was active in karting, with the odd occasion in between. It only took a couple of runs and I was totally back into it. You never really forget it. It would have been better to be doing it every day, but motorsport isn’t a sport like that.
“You can’t compare it with tennis or golf — those athletes, if they missed a few months, would struggle going straight into a tournament if up against players who were training every day. In Formula 1, nobody trains every day in the car, so I guess that’s what makes the difference — we’re all used to jumping straight in with not too much practice and getting on the pace. It’s the same for everyone, so it’s not that big a factor I think.”