Guenther Steiner believes the Haas team is “here to stay” in Formula 1 and that the championship’s response to the current crisis will help combat owner Gene Haas’s long-standing reservations.
Haas joined the F1 grid in 2016 with a unique model based on buying as many parts from Ferrari as the rules allow and a chassis tie-up with Italian constructor Dallara, and scored points on its debut.
Three strong years peaked with fifth in the constructors’ championship but Haas’s form nosedived in 2019, triggering vocal concern from its American owner about how much it was costing to be on the F1 grid without the change of success against the biggest teams.
F1 is already committed to a budget cap in 2021 but this is poised to be reduced from the planned $175m to $150m at most, and then slide further to $130m thereafter, as teams and stakeholders negotiate ways to reduce short-term and medium-term spending in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and the massive impact it has had on the 2020 schedule.
Haas team principal Steiner believes his operation “added something” to F1 when it joined and says that the team has a “good future”, once F1 navigates the financial fallout of the global crisis, which has pushed back the expected 2020 season start to July at the earliest.
“We are here to stay,” Steiner said in a Sky Sports F1 video. “We have to see out this scenario. If we can get in what the plan is now, we’re good for the year and I’m in touch with Gene almost every day.
“He wanted to be involved in what is happening. Now it’s getting a little easier because we have some vision of what is happening.
“He seems to be in a good place. We just need to be diligent, the budget cap and bringing the teams together will help. And we just need to do a good job.
“I think we are here to stay.”
Haas is one of many UK-based teams to have placed staff on furlough, with a “majority” of its workers on enforced leave and having a portion of their salaries paid by the UK government.
The lack of races in 2020 have harmed F1’s revenue streams because of the impact this has on race-hosting fees, broadcasting rights and sponsorship. Teams’ own sponsorship deals are also affected.
Steiner said the financial aspect is “changing on a daily basis” and the teams are mainly leaving sorting a revised calendar to F1 and the FIA, as their priority is finalising the budget cap.
There was progress in this regard last week in constructive meetings between all stakeholders, and Steiner believes a final agreement will come “soon”.
“That’s what the FIA president [Jean Todt] wants to go for so we have a secure future and hopefully have all teams around in the years to come,” said Steiner. “We have 10 strong teams and we should try to preserve them or help keep them going.
“As always there are politics at play, who wants more and who wants less.
“Somewhere there needs to be a middle ground. And in my opinion we are very close to finding this middle ground.”