Haas boss believes tyres key to 2019 woes
Guenther Steiner suggests understanding the Pirelli tyres will ultimately resolve the inconsistencies Haas has experienced throughout 2019.
The American team entered the year tipped to be one of the leading midfield contenders but has instead found itself at the bottom end of the championship table.
Fast over a single lap, neither Kevin Magnussen nor Romain Grosjean have been able to have the impact with the VF19 in the same way they did with the previous model car.
It’s also proved inconsistent which, for Steiner, leads to concerns that the issue could be carried over to next year’s car.
“I still haven’t understood these tyres, the hard one doesn’t last as long as the soft one, and it’s all over the place,” Steiner said.
“I think there will be a lot of questions asked on that one, we need to analyse it.”
Tyres changed from 2018 to 2019, with Pirelli introducing larger step gaps between the compounds following feedback that last year’s tyres overheated and blistered too easily, preventing drivers from being able to push their cars to the limit.
In response, along with tweaking the compounds, the tread depth was also reduced by 0.4mm in an effort to dissipate heat more readily, and thereby making the 2019 tyres harder to blister.
But while some teams have adapted to the new tyre easily, Mercedes a prime example, others have not, prompting discussions over the Austrian Grand Prix regarding a return to the 2018 specification tyre.
Haas, meanwhile, has adopted a methodology which sees its two cars run in different configurations as it chases a solution, all the while with one eye firmly on the design of the 2020 car.
The hope is the contrasting specifications will highlight an area of improvement, or an area in which the car has gone backwards, that can then be re-engineered.
That learning would be applied to both the current car and next year’s model.
However Steiner concedes it’s far from a simple process, with even differences in the ambient temperature are having a significant impact.
“We didn’t change anything on the car, so it cannot be the car, I guess,” the Italian suggested when comparing Haas’ pace from qualifying to the race in Hungary.
“The temperature changes and that changes everything.
“You cannot just live day by day,” he continued.
“You need to see the bigger picture as well, and that is part of what you need to do.
“You cannot just get eaten up on the weekend, and then you try to go back to a mission what you want to do also in future.
“And there is a short-term, medium-term and long-term which you have to have in your mind and just act accordingly, but never panicking because that doesn’t help.”
With nine races remaining in 2019, Steiner’s focus is not only achieving a specific result so much as finding a solution with which the team can move forward.
“A realistic target result-wise? I have no idea,” he conceded.
“But (I want) to get as much of an understanding as possible between the tyre and the car.
“The car we have influence on, obviously, but the tyre, if that is ruling what your aero does then we can’t do a lot about it.
“To find that out is difficult because we haven’t got another tyre to test on with something.
“I don’t really know but (the aim is) to get a good understanding so we are not falling into this trap next year.”
Haas sits ninth in the constructors’ title race with 26 points, ahead only of Williams and five points behind Racing Point.
Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium hosts the next grand prix on August 30-September 1.