Haas will not develop its new car for the 2021 season so that it can focus on the new 2022 regulations, according to team principal Guenther Steiner.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced Haas to halt its development program on last year’s car in order to save money, and there has been a clear shift in the team’s approach, as it dropped two experienced drivers in Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen for rookies Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher. During the unveiling of the VF-21 in its new livery influenced by title sponsor Uralkali, Steiner said the car is not scheduled to receive any upgrades once the season starts.
“We face a year of learning with the drivers while technically we look ahead to the future,” Steiner said. “It’s no secret that the VF-21 will not be developed as we focus our energies now on the 2022 car, and what we hope will be a more level playing field. We all know roughly where we expect to be this season in terms of the competition, but we must ensure we’re there to capitalize on opportunities when they present themselves.”
However, Steiner insists this isn’t a year where the team is simply waiting for the opportunities that 2022 will bring, and that a lot of work will be taking place that just doesn’t have a direct impact on this year’s car.
“We have not used the development tokens this year… I wouldn’t say a holding season, it’s a transitional season, a transition to get to 2022,” he said. “We did this with the expectation that this year, if we invest a lot, time, money, tokens, wind tunnel time, it’s one year. We were starting late last year, anyway, the car wasn’t our best car, so if you put it all together, it was actually pointless to invest in the short term. It was much more important to invest in the mid and long term, and that’s the 2022 regulations.
“I wouldn’t say a holding season, because you always try to do your best when you go racing. It’s never like, ‘OK, we want to be last’; we don’t want to be last. We do our best, the guys put a lot of effort to get the best out of the short development time we had.
“But it’s a transitional period to get over to 2022, and we don’t have to forget we have two rookie drivers; that was already part of the whole plan. We want to be ready for 2022 in all areas, so in the end we will come up with two drivers that are ready, young and hungry because they haven’t been there, and we’ve got a good car for them in 2022.”