Guenther Steiner has revealed his shock at how close Haas finished last season to the midfield despite opting not to develop its 2021 F1 challenger.
The American team decided to turn its complete focus towards the sport's new era this season before a wheel had turned in anger last year in the hope of launching itself up the grid, but in doing so sacrificing an entire year of competition.
By the end of the season, however, rookie duo Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin began producing promising performances, with the German reaching Q2 in stellar fashion in Turkey.
Recounting a conversation with team owner Gene Haas from midway through the campaign, Steiner remarked in an end-of-season interview with GPFans: "Gene said 'Guenther, you didn't lie to me when you said this will be a bad year. You said it was going to be bad. You were right with that one'.
"I said, 'Yes, I'm doing this a long time and when you do what we did, or what we didn't do with the development, this is how it ends up'.
"This is not magic, if you don't develop a car and the others do, and we didn't have the strongest car to start with.
"At the end of the season, I was surprised how close we were. We shouldn't be two tenths [of a second] from any of the other cars because they developed [their cars].
"We were sometimes two or three tenths off them with rookie drivers. We didn't do anything. I wouldn't know where it comes from.
"Unfortunately, we could not make the step to be ahead of them but as to how close the gap was to them, I was sometimes surprised."