Steiner: No alternative to Haas solution

Guenther Steiner sees no alternative to Haas

Guenther Steiner sees no alternative to Haas’ current business model. Picture: XPB Images

There is no current alternative to the way Haas operates its Formula 1 team, according to its boss Guenther Steiner.

The American-registered operation employs arguably the most complicated model of all 10 current teams with offices spread across three counties.

Its design team sits in Italy, between Maranello and Parma, while its operational base is in Banbury, not far from Silverstone, in the United Kingdom.

Officially, its head office is in North Carolina in the United States.

That fractured model has some advantages, with technical director Simone Resta arguing it introduces greater diversity in terms of ideas, but it also has drawbacks.

Communication is chief among them, a point Steiner concedes, but at the same time the Italian is pragmatic enough to realise that there is, currently, no other option.

“It does. You cannot deny that,” he told Speedcafe when asked if the complexity had an impact on track.

“At the moment, it’s just our business model doesn’t do well with having it in one place because of the collaboration [with Ferrari and Dallara] and also with the race team in the UK.

“So what you try to do to manage it as best as possible.”

Along with having  different physical approach to most teams, with its operation spread across multiple locations, it has a different philosophy to its engineering too.

A customer of Ferrari, the partnership extends beyond power unit supply with Haas buying in everything allowed under the current regulations.

It means the team can employ fewer staff, as much of the design work is completed elsewhere.

However, given the choice, Steiner admits he would consolidate the Haas operation.

“But I don’t have a choice in the moment,” he admitted.

“If you would like to do something different, you need to come up with a good way how to do it.

“But in the moment, there is no good way how to unify the team like this.

“The only thing would be to take the race team to Italy,” he added.

“That is much easier than to take the design team to the UK, but that is also not possible because we have got 100 people working there and I will need to replace at least half of them, maybe more, because more than half of them wouldn’t come to Italy.

“For the short and mid-term, we are fine like we are.”

It does mean Haas misses out on what Steiner calls ‘social communication’.

He likens the team’s set-up to being in lockdown when the world took to working from home; the water cooler and casual coffee conversations stopped.

While not necessarily work-related, Steiner argues they still have a value that contributes positively to operation.

“If you look at, after COVID, a lot of people work from home,” Steiner explained.

“I’m pretty big in saying people need to go back to the office.

“The normal things; you don’t communicate anything,” he added, noting that there are processes that can be put into place to mitigate that risk, but that too has downsides.

“It then gets very sterile.

“This communication happens as well when you don’t think you have that communication; when you see somebody in the corridor, or when you have a coffee somewhere.

“When people meet outside of work, you don’t talk about work.

“And also knowing how the family of your colleague is doing gives you information which you don’t need to know what they’re doing, but if somebody is in a bad place, you leave them alone; if you don’t know, you just keep on asking questions.

“It’s social communication which you don’t have which is a little bit frustrating sometimes.”

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