Haas’ Steiner largely backs new 2021 engine concept

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In the wake of Formula 1’s new planned 2021 engine formula, the first details of which were announced last week, Haas F1 Team principal Guenther Steiner has largely backed the FIA’s proposal.

Some manufacturers scoffed at the details though, and Ferrari itself even issued a quit threat although this was over Liberty’s series plans, not the new engine regulations.

Haas, a Ferrari customer team, has sought to increase its standing past the levels of Formula 1’s upper midfield and Steiner admitted in the team’s Brazilian Grand Prix advance most of the basics are there with the new concept. But the details will need a bit more working out in the months to come.

“They’ve tried to achieve the things they set out with more noise, more equality and lower costs. That is the aim of it,” Steiner said.

“I think they’ve thrown out a good concept to start off with. Now the details can be worked out by the technical people. The concept is out there and I don’t think the concept will be changed. But now they need to work on the detail of the concept to achieve the goals they’ve set themselves with more noise, more equality and lower costs for the customer teams. Hopefully, they can achieve it.”

Noise has of course been one of the talking points since the introduction of the 1.6L V6 turbocharged period in 2014. The goal of making the engines louder would be due to a planned 3000rpm higher running speed range.

“The noise – if you don’t have it, you think it’s not important because it’s just noise,” Steiner said. “If you hear a V10 or a V12 going by, when you see these historic cars, it sounds beautiful. I think a lot of people like the noise. I don’t think we’ll get to that noise of a V10 or a V12, because you have a turbo on it.

“You can improve, and the aim is with making the rev limit 3,000 rpm higher than the current engine, it can be achieved to be noisier. I think it will never be like it was. A little bit noisier is good because I think it’s great for the fans to hear a car coming from far away.”

Noise is one element and another Steiner outlined was cost, and trying to keep the costs down.

“I wouldn’t say it’s the most important. It’s as important as the other ones because even if it’s cheap, if people don’t like the engine, why would we do it?” he asked.

“There needs to be a compromise between what the fans like, which is noise, and new manufacturers coming in, which is what people want. The cost element is also important for new people, for current people, and for the teams which don’t make their own engines, like us. It’s part of what we need to do to change Formula One to be better.”

Steiner said he hopes F1 will get the full technical regulations finalized by the end of 2018 to begin a two-year development process.

Drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, meanwhile, hope to lift Haas from eighth in the Constructor’s Championship over the final two races. Haas has scored 47 points, 18 more than it did in its debut season, and is six points behind sixth-placed Toro Rosso and only one behind seventh-placed Renault.

Kyle Busch interests McLaren for Indy 500, but team is leaning toward experience

McLaren Indy Kyle Busch
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With Arrow McLaren SP heavily weighing a fourth car for the Indy 500 next year, Kyle Busch is a candidate but not at the top of the IndyCar team’s list.

McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown addressed the possibility Wednesday morning during a video news conference with Gavin Ward, the team’s newly named racing director.

“I have not personally spoken with Kyle Busch, but you can read into that that someone else in our organization has,” Brown said. “We want to make sure if we run a fourth car, we’re in the mindset that we want someone that is experienced around the 500. It’s such an important race, and from a going for the championship point of view, we’ve got three drivers that we want to have finish as strong as possible, so if we ran a fourth car, we’d want to be additive, not only for the fourth car itself, but to the three cars and so bringing in someone who’s not done it before potentially doesn’t add that value from an experience point of view.”

Busch will race the No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing next season in NASCAR under a new deal that will allow the two-time Cup Series champion to make his Indy 500 debut. Busch, who had a previous deal to run the Indy 500 nixed by Joe Gibbs Racing, openly courted Chevy IndyCar teams to contact him during his introductory news conference with RCR last month.

After Team Penske (which has given no indications of a fourth car at Indy alongside champion Will Power, Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin), McLaren is the second-best Chevy organization, and it’s fielded an extra Indy 500 car the past two years for Juan Pablo Montoya. The Associated Press reported last month that McLaren was in “serious conversation” about running Busch at Indy with Menards sponsorship.

But with its restructured management, the team is in the midst of significant expansion for 2023. AMSP is adding a third full-time car for 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi to team with Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist, and a massive new shop also is being built in the Indianapolis area.

“(It’s) not because of him but purely because of experience,” Brown said of Busch. “He’s an awesome talent and would be huge, huge news for the speedway. But yeah, I think everyone is under consideration if we decide to do it, but experience is right at the top of the list as far as what’s going to be the most important to us.”

And it seems likely there will be a veteran joining Rossi, O’Ward and Rosenqvist at the Brickyard.

“A fourth car at the 500 is very much under consideration,” Brown said. “I wouldn’t even want to get ahead of ourselves, but we wouldn’t be ruling out a fourth car in the future on a full-time basis. That definitely wouldn’t be for ’23. But as we expand the team and get into larger facilities and things of that nature, it’s something that Gavin and I have spoken about.

“I think we would be in a position to run a fourth car at the 500 this upcoming year. If we do decide to do that, we’ll make that decision soon for maximum preparation, and I would say we’re open minded to a fourth car in ’24 and beyond and probably will make that decision middle of next year in time to be prepared if we did decide to do that.”

Brown also addressed the future of Alex Palou, who will be racing for Chip Ganassi Racing next season after also signing a deal with McLaren. Though Brown declined to get into specifics about whether Palou had signed a new deal, he confirmed Palou will continue to test “our Formula One car from time to time.

“Everyone has reached an amicable solution,” Brown said. “We’ve now had Alex in our Formula One car as we have Pato. That will continue in the future, which we’re quite excited about. At this point we’re laser-focused on 2023 and glad to have the noise behind us and now just want to put our head down and get on with the job with the three drivers we have.”