An interview with Guenther Steiner, Team Principle of Haas F1 Team.
The Italian Grand Prix is a quasi home race for Haas F1 Team as its technical partner, Ferrari, and its collaborator on chassis development, Dallara, are both based in Italy. Knowing the Haas VF-16’s Italian ties, how important is it to have a strong showing at Monza?
“With Dallara’s headquarters only an hour drive from Monza, I’m sure that a lot of their people will be there. It’s always good to be there because of the passion people have for the racecars. The history of Monza and the passion of the Tifosi give the Italian Grand Prix a great atmosphere, and with it being close to both of our technical partners, we want to do our best.”
How has the technical partnership with Ferrari been and how has it evolved as Haas F1 Team went from designing a car to building a car to racing a car?
“The partnership has been great and, without them, we wouldn’t be where we are. I am sure about that. It is evolving every day and the people at Ferrari understand what we are doing. We are all here to go racing and I know that they enjoy competition. Over time, the relationship keeps getting stronger and, of course, we enjoy working with them.”
Explain Dallara’s role with Haas F1 Team and its prior history in Formula One.
“Dallara made their own car a long time ago and they have been involved with many projects. They enjoy being in Formula One and are doing a great job with their contribution to Haas F1 Team. Their people are passionate about it and love it. The partnership started off well and we are working to improve it so we can learn and be even better next year. They have definitely contributed a lot and help us on our program.”
What made Dallara the right partner for Haas F1 Team?
“They give us their experience. They have the infrastructure and knowledge of the racecars and, for us, it was the best choice to partner with them. The combination of Haas F1 Team and Dallara is a good match.”
This is Haas F1 Team’s first year and each race weekend is a learning experience. Is the same true for Dallara?
“I think it’s less based on a race weekend and more on a yearly basis when a new car is built. Altogether we learn a lot on making and using the car. They aren’t just an outside company. They are part of our team. I absolutely think it is a learning experience for them, too. It is for everyone involved.”
While the 2017 car will be drastically different from the 2016 car, what’s been learned from the partnerships with Ferrari and Dallara that can be applied to development of the 2017 car?
“Everything you do you learn and want to be better at. We are looking at how we have done during the 2016 year, which has been a pretty good job, but there is always room for improvement. To move forward in the classifications and ranks we will need to do better, and it won’t happen on its own. Everything will need to be more efficient and will need to step up in order to be better next year. That’s what we are doing with Ferrari and Dallara – just trying to improve so we can make the program better.”
How satisfying has it been to see a new idea and a very different philosophy of how to go Formula One racing not just come to fruition, but be successful by scoring points and challenging some of the more established teams?
“The philosophy of what Gene (Haas) set out – that we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but we need to find a way to do it more efficiently because we knew doing the same as the other teams wouldn’t be enough. There is satisfaction in seeing the plan not just come together, but work and work well. We should be happy with what we’ve achieved.”
Would Haas F1 Team’s success have been possible without the collaborations with Ferrari and Dallara?
“No, not really. We can never really prove it, but I think that it definitely would have been more difficult and a lot less successful. I would think that without Ferrari and Dallara, we wouldn’t be where we are right now.”
Haas F1 Team’s setup is unique – headquarters in the United States, logistical base in England and car design in Italy. How have you been able to manage it and ensure that three facilities in three different time zones work together?
“Good people! You need to have people that you can trust, and that is the only way to do it. It does include a lot of traveling from my side, but we don’t know any different, which makes it a bit easier for us. We just use technology to talk and it seems to be working. I suppose we could’ve done it differently, but I think that part of our success is that we have the right people in the right places. As of now, it seems to be working, even if it is a lot of work compared to everything being in one place. As long as it continues to work, we will continue to do it this way.”
Do you think other entities outside of Formula One are looking at Haas F1 Team’s model as a way to potentially break into the sport?
“I hope so. I mean, I always wish for competition if they see it can work. I think there is still a license out there that somebody can get. As far as other existing teams changing, I don’t really see that happening because it would be more difficult for them. A new team, though, could be possible because we have shown that there is more than one way to have a Formula One team.”
Could what Haas F1 Team has accomplished be emulated?
“I think others could copy it, but they’ll need to find their own path to make it work for them. There are a few strong teams out there that I think could provide what we get from Ferrari.”
Ferrari’s hospitality unit is always packed during the Italian Grand Prix. How busy will our hospitality unit be?
“That is difficult to say. If you are up toward the front of the paddock, the more people that want to be associated with you. But I think with us being associated with two Italian companies, we will have some friends who will come by and have a coffee.”