Steiner: Haas comfortable with Rich Energy's 'aggression'
Haas' title sponsor deal with flamboyant entrepreneur William Storey's Rich Energy brand turned some heads during pre-season, but team boss Guenther Steiner has explained to GPFans that the pair are a good match and share each other's ambitions on and off track.
Gone are the red, white and grey corporate colours of American team owner Gene Haas' power tool company, and in their place, a striking black and gold design echoing the drinks brand's can design, and harking back to the famous JPS Lotus design of the 70s and 80s.
Also landing in F1 is the bolshy style of Rich Energy. The company's Twitter account celebrated Romain Grosjean delivering a quicker lap time than Red Bull's Max Verstappen with a celebratory tweet including the hashtag #betterthanredbull.
While the message brought a smirk to many faces in the paddock, Steiner says the attitude is shared at Haas, with a stronger financial footing now giving F1's smallest operation a chance to bloody some lofty noses.
"We are always very ambitious, we always want to improve," Steiner told GPFans. "Like with Rich Energy, they are a young company and they want to gain ground, so they are a little bit aggressive but we are very okay with that. That is what they want to do.
"Our ambition is always the same: we want to improve, however, we are realistic. We're not going to challenge the top three until, hopefully, 2021 when the new regulations come in place, and even then it will be difficult, to be honest.
"For sure, if we can make one or two results and disturb [the teams ahead] a little bit, we would be very happy with that."
With F1's 2021 rules shake-up aimed at levelling the playing field and bringing the sport's madcap spending under control, Haas see this as an opportunity to make a play to join 'the big three' fighting for wins and podiums, but until then, Steiner insists the team remain focused fully on what's immediately ahead of them.
"We're focusing on this and next year's season, for sure, before we get to 2021. We always want to do our best possible and we are working very hard to get better every year," he said.
"For us, success is 'improvement'. Whatever that is. Improvement normally comes with a better result, but sometimes it is not only the result. It's like, if we improve this year and still finish fifth but we don't have as many mistakes as last year - that's an improvement.
"We just need to show that we are getting better, and then if you keep getting better there comes a time when it's your time."
After kickstarting their debut season with sixth and fifth-place finishes in the first two races, Grosjean declared Haas were 'living the American dream', knowing full well that many years had passed since any team new to the grid had achieved such eye-catching results that early in their existence.
Three years on, Haas are coming off the back of their best ever season after narrowly missing out on fourth place in the constructors' championship to Renault, a manufacturer team with a vastly superior budget to the American squad.
"This is a difficult business and all the other nine teams are very good, so there are no pushovers. They try to do the same as us, they have just been here a lot longer and have more experience," said Steiner.
"We just need to improve quicker than them but we are very realistic about it. We are not here just to take part. That's no fun just to take part.
"We are here to have success, whatever that is, and there will be the day when we go backwards one year because you cannot always go uphill. You have your downs as well, and we need to learn from that as well.
"You cannot make [zero mistakes] here, because it's the environment. It's racing, things happen that you cannot predict and then you have to react to it."
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