Haas team principal Guenther Steiner is adamant that his team did the right thing by calling its drivers into the pits for a tire change during the formation lap for the Hungarian Grand Prix, despite both earning penalties for breaches of pit wall communication rules.
Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean both were called into the pits at the end of the formation lap and switched to slick tires for the start of the race, a move that briefly catapulted them into the top four when the rest of the field followed suit later. Both cars then received 10-second time penalties because communication from the pit wall is banned during the formation lap for anything other than safety reasons, but Steiner said the team would not change its approach in the same situation.
“For sure we would do the same thing again,” Steiner said. “The 10 second penalty was a little bit ambiguous. Unfortunately, we cannot appeal it because it’s a time penalty – you’re not allowed to appeal those ones. It was never done before, and it looks like if it’s never been done before – and there’s no clear regulation, you get a penalty.
“We need to move on from this, but it spiced the race up for everybody. I don’t think we should stop doing these things in racing, otherwise accountants can race in Formula 1.”
Although Steiner’s frustration is understandable – the penalty cost the team one point due to Magnussen being demoted from ninth to 10th in the final standings – the infringement was the communication with the driver rather than the decision to pit at the end of the formation lap, which could have legally been made by the driver alone.
Regardless, Haas still picked up its first point in what looks like being a tough season given a lack of planned car development. Steiner admits it will be a difficult year, but one that he views as necessary in order for the team to have a stronger future.
“I obviously feel we should get in (Q2) but unfortunately we don’t,” he said. “We’re just lacking the speed in qualifying and that’s something we have to live with, as we’re not planning any big upgrades and there are no engine upgrades. We just need to fight and always try to do a good job, then we can hope we move on.
“Yes, we’ve had a lot of inconsistency, but I think we know pretty well where we’re at. We’re not the fastest midfield car this year, and we just need to deal with that one. We’re always trying to get the best out of the package. We’ve not planned any development for this year, so we have to focus on getting the best out of what we’ve got this season and look to next year to try to do something better for that season. It will not be an easy year, but we’re here to stay.”