Haas has positive pressure on its shoulders to deliver a more competitive car in 2022, but team principal Guenther Steiner says the whole atmosphere within the team is more positive than last season because there is the potential to make progress this time around.
Haas effective wrote last season off, running two rookies in Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin with the aim of allowing them to gain experience in Formula 1 while the team put its full development resources into its 2022 project. While Steiner acknowledges that car now needs to show it was worth the investment, he says the ability to develop and chase improvements has created a completely different scenario for the team this year.
“There is always pressure, because wherever we are we will not be winning the world championship this year, so there is pressure because we are not number one,” Steiner told RACER. “There is always pressure, but it’s a pressure where you can actually work on it and do something about it, whereas last year the pressure was to keep everybody calm and to get by.
“There is obviously more pressure because we were so bad last year – and we explained it a million times why we were so bad – and now we need to show that we are actually not this bad, so there is pressure to deliver on that.
“Even if we are wherever we are, you can fix it. But last year we knew we were not going to develop anything. This year, if we go to Spain and we are not fully satisfied but we know we have got something cooking maybe in the wind tunnel that we can get better. You are actually working on something to make it better, you are not just treading water.”
Steiner says he has noticed a clear change in the atmosphere at Haas as it prepares to see the starting point for a project that offers much more possibilities than 2021.
“It’s like a complete different scenario to last year,” he said. “Last year was, ‘how can we get by?’. We went to the test trying to believe in a miracle, but you know the miracle will not be coming and now it’s basically in our own hands. We need to do a good job, it’s just to manage things that actually take you forward, whereas last year we just did things to get by.
“It’s a little bit like the coronavirus, you know? We do a lot of work just to get by, but in a normal year you always make progress with a company or with anything. It’s just being in a different place. I mean, there are challenges left, right and center, and there are always challenges in F1, but that is one of the reasons why we are all here.
“It’s good to say ‘OK I see positive things happening’. If there is an issue with something, we sort it and we make progress. It’s nice, it’s positive, the whole approach is a different approach.
“I’ve absolutely seen it in the team, because everybody just sees there is an opportunity now, whereas last year there was no opportunity. The opportunity was to go to a race and to get by, now it’s an opportunity (to) be good again.”