Haas team boss Guenther Steiner says the team have taken on board hard lessons from a tough 2019 season, and are aiming to bounce back in 2020.
As a young team, Haas have been on a general upward trajectory ever since entering Formula 1 in 2016, rising to finish P5 in the Constructor’s Championship in 2018. However, in their fourth season, 2019 finally proved to be the ‘difficult second album’ and the team fell down to P8.
It was a strange year for Haas, who struggled to understand a fast but flawed car in the VF-19. While the car was capable of going fast over a single lap, their race pace was generally abysmal, and the team took to experimenting with different configurations and setups on their car in a bid to understand where their data was going so wrong.
While 2019 proved to be a season to forget, team boss Guenther Steiner says 2020 will be a ‘fresh start’ as they unveiled the V.F.20 in a studio reveal ahead of the physical launch at testing next week.
“Obviously, after a season like 2019, it’s good to get going again with a fresh start.” said Steiner, relishing the chance to reset and refresh things for the year,
“We realised last year, in the middle of the season, that we needed to do something different for 2020, and we did. We’ve just tried to apply into the new car some of the things we learned at the end of the season when we had development parts on the car.”
Having had a generally favourable start to 2019 with testing and the early races showing promise, Steiner says he won’t be placing much stock on how pre-season testing will be going in terms of pace, but rather how the team interpret their gathered data: “Last year we had a good test, and the early races were good – then it went south. What we’ve learned is how to look at things better, and how to analyse our data better to see if we’re on the right track or if we’re headed in the wrong direction. We learned as well to listen to our drivers, that sometimes helps a lot.”
Kevin Magnussen was already contracted to drive for Haas in 2020, while Romain Grosjean had to fend off interested suitors like Nico Hulkenberg in order to retain his seat. Steiner says that having a stable driver line-up for a fourth consecutive year allows the team to focus on the important areas, as they know they have a solid baseline with which to work: “The biggest thing from having drivers paired together for so long is that as a team we have quite a good understanding of where they’re good and where they’re not. We can then focus on areas where one is better than the other and so on. I think also, the respect between them, is quite good.”
“They look at each other and they don’t need to put a show on or anything like that.” continued the team boss. “They’ve known each other a long time. It’s pretty good to have that relationship. In general, there’s a good understanding between the two of them, and there were some hard lessons learned last year in a car that was underperforming. Those lessons learned will be applied into this year.”