Haas Formula 1 chief Günther Steiner feels fifth place in the constructors’ championship is out of reach for the team in 2017, instead setting his sights on recovering seventh place from Renault.
NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas set up his eponymous F1 operation in 2016, which finished its debut season eighth in the teams’ standings.
Haas has already beaten its score from its debut season in 2017, and has been in the close-knit midfield pack including Williams, Toro Rosso and Renault all bidding to finish fifth.
Haas lost P7 in the standings to Renault two weeks ago in Singapore, and Steiner believes recovering this place should be the main target through the final six races of the season.
“I think fifth is a little bit ambitious. I think we cannot finish fifth but we try to finish seventh,” Steiner said.
“I think at this moment in time we would be happy with that. We stopped developing the 2017 car quite a while ago to concentrate on next year’s car.
“We have limited resources. We need to focus that we stay stable year-to-year, not just one year up and down because then you create a wave-effect and you never get a grip of what you’re doing. We try to do our best.
“We will bring a few more developments but they are small. The last one comes in Austin. We hopefully can score some points.
“I hope also that our worst circuits are behind us, like the slow speed, high downforce ones. Our car doesn’t like them.
“It’s tough in the midfield. We just need to try to do always a perfect job.”
Car No.: 20
Best Finish: P7 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Championship Position: 14th
Kevin Magnussen’s move to Haas proved to be a win-win situation for both parties through 2017 as they banished the struggles of the previous Formula 1 season.
For Magnussen, the move came after a difficult one-season stint with Renault who despite offering him a way back into F1 after a year on the sidelines were unable to produce a car allowing the Dane to fight far up the order.
Haas had not expected to be able to be that much further ahead, but Magnussen nevertheless immediately offered an uplift in performance after replacing Esteban Gutierrez, who failed to score a single point through 2016.
Magnussen picked up Haas’ first points of the season with a solid drive in China, and was able to capitalize on the bonkers Baku race to take P7, which would ultimately be his best result of the season.
Consistency was a real issue for Haas throughout the year as it continued to have teething problems most new teams encounter, and while Magnussen was more able to drive around the problems than teammate Romain Grosjean, he lacked the ultimate pace of his teammate.
That said, Magnussen’s season highlight came in Mexico, a track Haas expected to be its worst of the season. The ex-McLaren driver qualified on the last row but produced a stunning display to finish eighth, soaking up pressure from Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton late on.
The signs are positive moving forward. Next year should be Haas’ best yet thanks to the stability in the regulations, presenting a good opportunity for Magnussen to prove his star quality.
Season High: Taking P8 in Mexico when Haas expected to be slowest.
Season Low: Lagging home P15 at Spa as Grosjean hit the points.