Haas team principal Guenther Steiner believes his squad had ‘no need to be afraid’ during sustained accusations of copying Ferrari during the 2018 Formula 1 season and feels despite new title sponsor backing it’s organisation and strategy will remain largely unchanged for 2019.
Haas came under pressure during last season with teams suspecting the US squad of copying Ferrari designs and car parts, through its close technical working relationship, which was speculated to be breaking F1 rules.
The US team never fell foul of the Ferrari copy claims, while Romain Grosjean was disqualified for an illegal floor design after finishing in sixth place the Italian Grand Prix, with Haas dismissing the rumours about rule-breaking.
“We have proved we are not doing anything because we invited people to come in, plus all the tests the FIA did, and we are still open if someone wants to audit us,” Steiner said. “Just do it. We are open to it.
“It never happened because people were just trying to scare us, but you cannot scare someone who doesn’t need to be afraid. So, we said, ‘yes, you are our guests’.”
Moving into 2019, Haas has secured title sponsorship backing from Rich Energy, a British energy drinks company, which Steiner described as its “biggest deal” to date following the announcement in October.
Steiner doesn’t believe the fresh backing will change the way Haas operates and is confident of also retaining the same arrangement it has with Ferrari for 2019.
“I think we are three years in and the Haas F1 name is pretty well established,” he said after the Rich Energy announcement. “Now everybody knows what Haas F1 is. For one reason or another it is well established.
“If a partner comes along which again contributes enough and gives you opportunities as well, why not do it? I think it will help the team.
“It will be exactly the same [with Ferrari]. We have got a very good relationship, it’s working very smoothly because we established all the rules. It’s working fluently and well so there’s no change in the relationship.”
Haas climbed to fifth place in the F1 world constructors’ championship last year and came close to challenging the Renault factory squad for fourth place at the end of 2018.