© Getty Images

Steiner: Impossible to know where Haas will stack up yet


Günther Steiner believes that it won’t be until the Australian Grand Prix in March that the new Haas Formula 1 Team will know where it stands in the pecking order this season.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas has been planning to enter F1 for over two years, and preparations are now entering their final stages ahead of the team’s debut in Melbourne on March 20.

Ahead of the first race, Haas will enjoy eight days of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain with drivers Esteban Gutierrez and Romain Grosjean.

Expectations are mixed for Haas’ debut season. The failure of F1’s recent start-ups have not bred confidence in the paddock, yet it has been recognized that Haas is going about things in a very different fashion to the likes of Caterham, HRT and Marussia.

Nevertheless, team principal Steiner remains unwilling to make any firm assertions about how Haas will shape up to the rest of the grid until after the first race of the year.

“It’s always difficult to say certainly which team you compete [with], because we don’t know who is strongest or isn’t strong,” Steiner told reporters at Haas’ American base in Kannapolis, North Carolina earlier this week.

“You’re trying to hit a moving target. We don’t know what they’re coming out with, so it’s always difficult to say who will be the competition or how good they are until you get to Spain.

“You get a good understanding there. You don’t get the complete picture. The complete picture you get in Australia. But in Spain, you are 80% there. It could be completely different [from last season]. You just don’t know.”

Steiner’s thoughts were echoed by Gutierrez, who believes the change in power unit suppliers for a handful of teams could shake up the pecking order.

“There are some changes now with Toro Rosso going from Renault to Ferrari, also Renault coming into Formula 1 again as a manufacturer team,” Gutierrez said.

“There are a lot of changes that are difficult to put a precise expectation, but that’s part of the beauty of Formula 1. You need to work as hard as possible and then compete with what you have.”

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
1 Comment

Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.