Nikita Mazepin will be relieved that Haas will be giving him the same kit as Mick Schumacher for the 2022 season, as team principal Guenther Steiner confirmed the arrangement on the day the team launched their 2022 challenger.
Last year Mazepin – whose father’s company Uralkali sponsors the team – was plagued with a ‘heavier’ car than his teammate, the stopwatch a true barometer of the pace difference between him and Schumacher, a battle the Russian lost hands down.
But in 2022, Mazepin is getting equal treatment according to Steiner: “Both drivers have equal contracts. Who is doing a better job is having a better starting position. No number 1 and no number 2 driver in our team.”
The Austrian is wary of the challenges facing his team this forthcoming mammoth F1 season with new rules and budget caps also kicking in: “One of the biggest changes in F1 if I can remember, a challenge for the teams. Big change and added to the complexity.
“A fresh start for everyone and the capacity not to develop the car is a plus for ourselves,” he added of the opportunities that may present themselves for the minnow teams.
We try to maximise all the opportunities with Ferrari
Key to Haas’ success in 2022 will be their power-unit supply from Ferrari. The Italian team dropped the ball in the last couple of seasons and customer teams, Alfa Romeo included, suffered as a result.
Nevertheless, Steiner is upbeat about the partnership: “We try to maximise all the opportunities with Ferrari. It is important to maximise all regulations.
“We always had a good relationship. You cannot do more than needed. With the budget cap coming in there was office space available so 35 people from Ferrari moved to us. The relationship is very much the same. We always had people from the Ferrari factory.”
As for his own team, Steiner said: “I can’t judge how the car will perform and I am cautious to be optimistic because I don’t know what the other ones are doing. I am pretty happy.”
As for the new car – which has been in production for almost two years as the new roll-out was delayed 12 months by F1 – and how it will evolve between now and the first Grand Prix of the 2022 season in Bahrain, on March 20, Steiner said: “Not a lot of changes planned for the moment.”
There are a lot of expectations about the new project and a lot of hard work
As for the performance of the new-gen F1 cars, Steiner would not be drawn into predicting: “The important component is to understand how it will be on the track, it’s all in the virtual world for now.
“That is an important point to be answered in a few weeks. All that can be seen only on track, we’ll then see the different directions taken by teams,” added Steiner with reference to testing in Barcelona later from 23–25 February.”
As for the pressure of achieving a turnaround in the wake of an awful couple of years for Gene Haas’ team, Steiner revealed: “I try to enjoy it and work hard. I don’t think about anything else.
“There are a lot of expectations about the new project and a lot of hard work. We are a very young organisation. Our true potential is to show our potential,” trumpeted the Haas team boss. (Additional Reporting by Agnes Carlier)