Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner praised Romain Grosjean’s performances this season and the direction of Formula 1’s “high-tech momentum” after the Italian Grand Prix.
In a recent interview with Formula 1, the Haas chief called this year’s midfield battle “gruelling” as the American team sits a point above Renault in the constructors’ standings and five behind Toro Rosso.
Though Romain Grosjean finished 15th and Kevin Magnussen finished 11th at Monza, Grosjean’s recent seventh place finish in Belgium particularly impressed Steiner.
“Who would have ever thought that Williams would be behind us in Spa?,” he said.
“That should have been their track, as it is a high-speed track.”
“We had no problems keeping them behind us and I am sure they will think ‘How did that happen?’”
Steiner stressed he wants no repeat of the second half of 2016, when Haas picked up just one point from the last 11 races of the season.
“The second half of last year was disastrous in terms of points.
“And before this year’s summer break we had exactly the same amount of points we had at the same time last year and we had to get the monkey off our backs somehow – and in Spa we did.
“Now we want to keep the momentum…we want to keep the position and try to better it if possible.
“But there is also always the chance to lose the position – the midfield is gruelling.”
The gulf between its two drivers is apparent, as Grosjean sits 13th in the drivers’ standings with 24 points and Magnussen sits 14th, with 11 points.
“I think that Romain is just a little bit more mature and he’s known the team longer. And he took advantage of that, obviously.
“But then Kevin has 11 points and he could have more with a few less mistakes from us and one less from him.”
“We can look back, but should not go back”
F1’s engine specifications post-2020 are continuously being shaped as manufacturers and the FIA met in June with more talks planned for the future.
The Haas chief is content with F1’s current direction but cost control and parity are still two glaring issues for him, with Steiner having cited that Haas spends 20 percent of its overall budget on engines.
Steiner maintained: “Formula 1 has to keep its high-tech momentum.
“We cannot go back to something like a V8. Those times are gone.
“We can look back, but should not go back.
“The engine manufacturers are challenged with coming up with the best ideas – having a firm eye on where the road car market is going. From the side of a private team, it would be great if the costs were under control.
“Of course [equality] has to do with the engines, but I would say it mostly has to do with the aero side, the size of the team and the budget involved.
“Liberty Media is working on it, to make it a more even playing field, I was told. Can you imagine if we were to have five or six teams that were able to win races? Wouldn’t that be awesome?
“Right now the battle is in the midfield – and we are very honoured to play that crucial part right now – but can you imagine a whole championship with fights that you right now basically see only in the midfield? The fans would love it.”
Could McLaren pair with Renault?
Outside of Haas, McLaren’s partnership with Honda is said to be at risk with the relationship between the two strained due to Honda’s lack of power and reliability.
Honda chief Yusuke Hasegawa wants the partnership to remain, as he told Autosport, “I’m still trying to make good performances to convince them but I’m not sure it will be enough.
“Honda [will] never give up on keeping this collaboration.”
Both McLarens retired from the Italian GP with Fernando Alonso suffering a gearbox issue and Stoffel Vandoorne stopping due to a broken MGU-K part, after Honda claimed that engine upgrades would be implemented and Alonso took a 35-place grid penalty for the race.
McLaren may announce its split with Honda – and possible alliance with Renault for 2018 – soon, but that leaves Honda in the lurch.
If Honda cannot find a manufacturer to pair with, the engine manufacturer may be forced out of F1.
Toro Rosso has emerged as the team that may pick Honda engines for 2018, and an announcement on that partnership is expected soon.
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