Haas will not be allowed to write off 2021 and settle for being the slowest team on the grid despite the development focus being on next season, says team principal Guenther Steiner.
The new VF-21 was launched last week and will be officially unveiled in the flesh in Bahrain on Friday morning ahead of pre-season testing. While the car includes a number of changes due to revised regulations, Steiner has already said it would be “pointless” investing in its development in the short term, but insists that doesn’t mean he isn’t hoping for gains – specifically from the upgraded Ferrari power unit.
“I don’t know exactly what the other ones are coming up with,” Steiner said. “Therefore I say I would not call it a holding year; it is a transitional year and you always try to do our best. The car will be hopefully better in competition with the other cars of this year because everybody – maybe not everybody – lost some downforce because of the regulation changes. Hopefully we can make some gains.
“I’m not saying we give up. We never give up. But we started pretty late last year to develop. We had some developments planned for the year which then did not materialize. But we picked them up and put them in. The engine looks promising. The engine makes a good step up, so we should be in an OK spot. But will we be fighting in the top midfield? I don’t think so.
“But we are not going there and saying we definitely want to finish last. That is not happening. That is never happening as long as I will be here. You always try to get every little bit out of it. And we have rookie drivers. We need to be aware of that, and they need to aware of that not to overdo things by trying too hard, because then you make mistakes. In the end I’m really looking forward to going racing again, with the view that we’ll get the best out of it that we can.”
The two rookies Steiner speaks of are Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin, and last year’s Formula 2 champion said there will be a fully-committed approach from the drivers’ point of view.
“Obviously the team took that decision (to sign rookies) so I’m sure there’s a very good reason for it,” Schumacher said. “I see in this case myself, and I see how hungry I am for the season, and how I want to do well and everything. I’m pretty sure Nikita is the same.
“We have now two very hungry drivers pushing for every little detail, and that’s what’s eventually going to bring the team forward, and that’s what we want. I feel the relationship between me and the team is really strong and will get even stronger throughout the season so we have every right to think positively of this year.”