Haas team principal Guenther Steiner says placing two cars in the final part of qualifying in Suzuka “means as much” as scoring points on the team’s Formula One debut with sixth in Melbourne.
Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutierrez made it both into Q3 in Suzuka, a first for the American outfit this year. And while Haas failed to convert its strong qualifying into points, Steiner thinks the achievement should not be belittled.
“In F1, getting into Q3 – it’s one of the things you need to do on speed,” he said. “You don’t get lucky to get in there. In the race there are other circumstances, but on a one-time lap you need to be fast.
“For me, it means as much as achieving points at the first race in Australia. To get both cars into Q3 is fantastic and I think everyone on the team would agree. I wouldn’t say we were surprised because we felt like we were very good. We got it done. It was a fantastic moment.”
After a dream start to life in F1 with points in three of the first four races, Haas has experienced an up-and-down maiden campaign though the US team has always remained on the cusp of the top 10, as highlighted by seven 11th-place finishes.
“The midfield is so close,” Steiner offered in response. “Sometimes we are ahead in the midfield, like we were in Japan. We were almost on par on a single lap with Force India and faster than Williams and McLaren. But then sometimes we are a little bit at the tail end. It’s very close in that region.
“Whatever you do you need a little bit of luck and you need additional luck for a good performance to get in the points. We take away that it is our first season and sometimes we are doing more than is expected of us.”