The morale at Haas has changed so much over the past 12 months that it is now “a different place” to work, according to team principal Guenther Steiner.
Haas wrote off its 2021 season in order to divert as many resources as possible towards its 2022 car, when a major change in regulations provided the potential to shake up the competitive order. The move has paid off, with Haas currently seventh in the constructors’ championship and regular point-scorers, and Steiner says it has had a big impact on the atmosphere at the team.
“When I walk in everybody stands up and applauds me… No, I’m joking!” Steiner told RACER. “I think it’s a different place. I think I feel the same as 90% of the people here, which is when you come in on a Thursday knowing you can score points, you’re in a good mood. You want to do this work.
“Last year, when you walked in here and looked at your calendar: ‘F***, it’s only Thursday, we’ve got three days to go’. Now it’s like I cannot wait for tomorrow to come to go out on the track to see what we can do.
“Sometimes you get disappointed, but you know that you always have a chance. We didn’t have that feeling last year, we knew we didn’t have a chance. Maybe the first five races you had the illusion that something could come out good, but after the fifth race it was like ‘Jesus Christ, how many races have we got left to do?’.
“We counted them many times. At this time last year it was like ‘It will be all good when we come back because we will be over the hump! It’s all downhill now.’”
Steiner said the introduction of the budget cap has similarly had a positive impact on the team’s outlook, saying Haas can realistically target much bigger results because he expects to reach the budget cap in 2023.
“It’s easy to say to people,” he said. “Before, they always had the excuse of ‘Oh, if we had the money of the big (teams) we could win races’ and I said ‘We’ve got the same money as the big ones, why are we not winning?!’. That is how it has changed, honestly. Now it’s only ourselves to blame.
“It is honestly like this, because before if you didn’t perform it was ‘If I had another five million we would be world champions’. No, you wouldn’t, but now there is nowhere to hide. We just need to do a better job and I take that challenge in a positive way, because now, knowing that it depends on us to be good… short-term, maybe it is still difficult, but mid-to-long-term it should be possible, or it needs to be possible, because otherwise the budget cap didn’t do its job.”