Haas will not be able to fire-up its 2021 car until it arrives in Bahrain ahead of the pre-season test due to COVID-19 restrictions in the United Kingdom.
Like many Formula 1 teams, Haas has a base in the UK but its power unit supplier is Ferrari, meaning regular travel within Europe is required as part of the partnership. Currently, anyone arriving in the UK is subject to quarantine restrictions to help curb the spread of COVID-19, and team principal Guenther Steiner says that has prevented the team from completing a fire-up during its new car build.
“We have issues with Ferrari employees coming to Banbury to start up the engines, because they would need to quarantine,” Steiner told the official F1 website. “We cannot afford that time-wise, so we decided to do the fire-up in Bahrain. The team will assemble the car in the UK, and then the final fire-up will be in Bahrain before test.”
While Steiner admits it is “absolutely” getting late for Haas to have to take such an approach, he says 2021 is the easiest year to face a delay of this kind given the relative similarities in regulations compared to last season.
“To our advantage, there is a lot of carryover so it’s not as dramatic as it would have been in any other year. With the engine, there are a lot of the parts that are carried over. The gearbox is carried over, too, and parts like the wiring harnesses. If this was not the case, it would be a very big risk to do it in Bahrain. But with this situation, the risk is manageable.”
Despite that confidence, Haas will be dealing with a completely new power unit from Ferrari this year, with team principal Mattia Binotto saying over the winter that the dyno numbers make him confident it won’t be the worst on the grid following a disappointing 2020 performance.