Both the Sahara Force India F1 Team and McLaren F1 Team have questioned the depth of the technical relationship between Scuderia Ferrari and Haas, due to the fact that the American team was able to display an impressive parce at the 2018 Australian Grand Prix, the first race of the season, Guenther Steiner insists everything is above board.
Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean started fifth and sixth at Albert Park, by far the best Qualifying performance for the Haas team in their short history, and although both drivers retired from the race due to separate pit stop issues, they were still on course to see both drivers finish inside the top six. At the end of the race, Force India’s chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer said that the methods used by Haas to achieve their 2018 speed jump is questionable, especially taking into consideration the fact that they are just beginning their third season in the sport following their arrival ahead of the 2016 season: “I don’t know how they do it, it’s magic. It’s never been done before in Formula 1. I just don’t know how it can be right that someone who’s been in the sport for a couple of years with no resource could produce a car [like this]… does it happen by magic? If it does, I want the wand. All the aerodynamic surfaces have to be your own. If they’re not, I don’t know how you can tell unless you start investigating. Scrutineering only tells you that it fits within the boxes of the regulations. Is it yours or somebody else’s [idea]? That’s the real question. And I don’t know the answer to that. Maybe it is their own, it’s just suspect – how can you gain that knowledge without history and the right tools and people?”. – Force India’s chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer added.
However, Guenther Steiner hit back at critics who aren’t happy with their Ferrari alliance. Haas F1 Team principal Guenther Steiner says, “We design our own aero” after opposition Formula 1 teams allege an illegal relationship with Ferrari. Haas has benefited greatly from a close working relationship with the Maranello team but some of their competitors, most notably Otmar Szafnauer of Force India and Zak Brown of McLaren, have suggested that this relationship may extend past what is acceptable.
And what got rivals’ attention on Sunday in Melbourne was the fact that the two Haas cars were running fourth and fifth before pit stop blunders sent both cars to the sidelines early. On first glance, the 2018 Haas does appear to bear more than a few small similarities to the 2017 Scuderia Ferrari car. Guenther Steiner has now responded to the comments of his rivals: “Everybody is allowed to have an opinion. Some people have an opinion, which I think is based on no facts. It does not have a lot of value to me. I think the whole of Haas F1 Team can be proud of the work done between last year and over the winter to produce the VF-18 and get it into its competitive condition. It’s merit to them. They can be proud. If people have an issue, fine with me. We report what we are doing, like everybody else, to the FIA. That’s why I am more than confident we are not doing anything wrong. I’m perfectly fine with how we do business. We design our own aero, as per the regulations, and yes, we use mechanical parts from Ferrari, but everybody’s known that for the past two years. We are well above board and happy to be where we are.” – he explained, as reported by the British media.
Regarding the problems faced by the team in the season opener, Guenther Steiner added: “As a team, we made mistakes. We had too much work to do on the car and didn’t practice enough. I think the key to all of this is to get the practice in before the race so that we’re prepared for all aspects of the race. You just have to explain what happened and be honest about it. We made mistakes, but we do have processes in place. Last year, in the second half of the season, we had some of the best pit stops on pit lane. We can do it. I think the lack of practice produced the result in Australia. Nevertheless, stuff like this happens. You get over it and move on.” – the Haas F1 Team principal concluded.