The best-case scenario for Haas this season is to be able to fight with Williams, admits team principal Guenther Steiner.
Haas had a tough 2020 as a result of an underdeveloped car and uncompetitive power unit that left it stuck fighting with Alfa Romeo and Williams for much of the year. After switching to a driver line-up composed of rookies Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin, this year is being viewed as a transition period with no work being done to the car after the second round and Steiner believes the evidence of the first race in Bahrain is that only one team is potentially in reach.
“I would say if we can take the fight to Williams, that’s about it, what we can (do),” Steiner said. “I’m very realistic about it. We are not putting any effort in to do anything more than that. I think the biggest amount that we can get out of the car, to get our drivers prepared, or get them prepared better, just get them experienced, that’s what we want to do so they are ready for when we have a better car. That is just how our plan is for this year.
“I think our battle is with Williams and to do a good job, that is what we want to do. We need to be realistic with what we battle, and we’ve got the two new guys – the battle is not to have any damage on the car and to get them to drive as much as possible.”
While the opening round was a disappointing one as Mazepin spun on numerous occasions and crashed out on the opening lap, Steiner was more encouraged by what he saw from Schumacher, who had one spin to his name early on but otherwise gathered vital mileage.
“I’m very happy with how he did it,” he added. “He improved in each stint on tires, very good, very calm, very good communication with his team. Except for one spin, nothing else went wrong. The advice I gave him: keep on doing this and we will get there pretty soon to be at a good level.”