Haas boss Guenther Steiner believes the US outfit was blindsided by its car’s speed in pre-season testing last year in Barcelona and wasn’t brave enough to immediately admit to the VF19’s flaws.
Haas regressed in 2019, the team’s performance weighed down by its car’s aerodynamic and tyre issues which multiple upgrades and a round-trip between configurations failed to cure.
From fifth in 2018, Haas had painfully slipped down to ninth in the Constructors’ standings after its challenging season.
In hindsight, Steiner admits that the VF19’s troubles should have been clear to see from the outset, and even more evident when the team introduced its first upgrade package at the Spanish Grand Prix after it had scored just 8 points in the first four races.
“When we launched the update in Barcelona, the drivers weren’t sure if it was progress,” Steiner told Formula1.com.
“But nobody had the courage to say that it didn’t work because the car was fast.
“The data didn’t look good either, but the speed was there and of course we believed in the positive things. But that was wrong.
“Because Barcelona is a special case, our car works well on this circuit. We continued anyway and when we finally saw that we were moving in the wrong direction, it was already too late.
“If we had been braver in Barcelona, we would not be where we are today.”
F1’s regulations for 2020 have remained unchanged, meaning that teams will field a car that is for the most part an evolution of their 2019 design.
However, having understood the conceptual flaw of its VF19, Haas will have hopefully corrected its approach in order to regain footing this year.
“I am confident that in 2020 we will be back where we were in 2018 – or at least very close to this level of performance,” reckons Steiner.
“You can never really know that, of course, because the other teams also play a role. But we are working again as before and that gives me the confidence that we can do it.”