Gene Haas’ suggestion that he needs a strong start to the 2020 season to justify staying in Formula 1 was taken out of context, says team boss Guenther Steiner.
Steiner, who has been team principal at the American team since its inception in 2016, believes the stakes are much the same as they have ever been.
“I approach every race as a make or break,” he told Autosport.
“Every race, you do your best, you cannot do more than the maximum. That’s what we always do, wherever we go.
“I wasn’t there when he said that [about needing a strong start to the season], so I don’t know what’s make and break.
“I think it was taken a little bit out of context.”
Pressed on whether that meant he believed Haas indeed was still committed to F1, Steiner indicated he had no reason to think otherwise.
“I spoke with him this morning [Thursday before the Australian Grand Prix], he phoned me up three hours ago seeing if everything was OK here,” he revealed.
“I think he’s committed. He wants to see how we are doing, what is going on with the team. I had 50 minutes with him on the phone.
“I think he’s still committed.”
However, Steiner’s optimism is not shared by all within the team, as driver Romain Grosjean maintains that Haas’ quit threat must be taken seriously.
“One must take Gene seriously, yes,” he told Canal+. “At least he’s been clear. There’s nothing worse than having someone say they’ll continue only to unexpectedly pull-out of F1.
“Gene was clear: he entered F1 to boost the Haas Automation brand, his company is well-known. And he also got involved because of his passion.
“However, I know few people at Haas who were happy to watch F1 in 2019. So I understand his position, but I think it’s rather positive.
“It’s true that the mechanics are wondering what will happen. So if Gene decides to end his commitment, I hope someone else will take over the team because it is a good team that knows what it is doing and has a working model behind it.”