“Exactly: you’re stuck,” says Steiner. “And these people need to make money, otherwise why would they do it? But it’s also having a vision, how to get this done. And I’m not saying buying the Ferrari suspension is wrong. But at least there needs to be a trend to do things better.
“Also, to attract more sponsors, you need to give them more, because everybody is gearing up what they give to sponsors.
“You need to have a story which is aligned with the other nine teams, because I wouldn’t think that the other nine teams are all stupid. If you’re outnumbered nine to one, normally the nine are right.”
The Haas story
So how does Steiner view the decade that has passed since the team gained its entry? “It was a good 10 years,” he concedes.
“You have good days and bad days, but in general I think if you can do something like this in your life, it’s pretty cool. To set up an F1 team being your idea and then getting it done… Even if you’re not ending up owning it, doing the impossible, having the idea and getting along and creating it is cool. [Haas is] still the youngest team, and it just started with a piece of paper. So no regrets on that.”
No one can take away the fact that the team earned a sixth place on its debut. “That’s the obvious one,” says Steiner when asked to recall the highlights.
“All the people said this couldn’t happen with the way it was structured – and it happened. We were at the first test at the right time in the right place. We came to the first race at the right time at the right place. And we went out there without an issue and scored points.
“That proves that you can do something, and then from there onwards, obviously you get the daily issues. I would say it was pretty good sailing, and then Covid hit and everything was getting more difficult.”
What comes next?
Another F1 team principal job looks unlikely, and even if he were offered one, he would be a hired hand and never have the autonomy that he had in his Haas role.