Haas unrepentant over Hungary penalties – ‘We would do the same thing again’ says Steiner
Both Haas cars received 10 second penalties at the Hungarian Grand Prix after the stewards decided the team breached F1’s sporting regulations by telling both drivers to pit for dry tyres on the formation lap – but boss Gunther Steiner is unrepentant and insists he wouldn’t hesitate to pull the same move again should the situation arise at this weekend’s British Grand Prix.
With rain having fallem a few hours before the race at the Hungaroring, Kevin Magnussen began on wet tyres and Romain Grosjean on intermediates, but as they realised how quickly the track surface was drying, both of them pitted during the formation lap and switched to slicks. It looked to have paid off as Magnussen ran as high as third and fell to ninth at the flag, ahead of McLaren’s Carlos Sainz, to seal Haas's first points of the year.
But after the race, the stewards demoted Magnussen to P10 and Grosjean to P16, as the rules state the driver must “drive the car alone and unaided”, and therefore the the calls from the team telling the two drivers to pit during the formation lap were against the regulations.
It ultimately meant Magnussen's two point haul was halved, but if the same situation presents itself this weekend at Silverstone, Steiner says he wouldn't hesitate.
“For sure we would do the same thing again," he said. “The 10-second penalty was a little bit ambiguous. Unfortunately, we cannot appeal it because it’s a time penalty – you’re not allowed to appeal those ones.
“It looks like if it’s never been done before – and there’s no clear regulation... We need to move on from this, but for sure it spiced the race up for everybody. I don’t think we should stop doing these things in racing, otherwise accountants can race in Formula 1,” he concluded.
Both Haas drivers retired from the British Grand Prix in 2019 after they collided with each other – and the team have only scored one point at Silverstone since their formation in 2016. However, Grosjean at least has some fond memories of the track from previous races.
The Frenchman, who won the 2011 GP2 Series (now FIA F2) Sprint Race there for DAMS before joining the Lotus F1 team in 2012, said: “I’ve had some good moments at Silverstone, some great wins. The 2012 British Grand Prix was quite good fun.
“I had contact on the first lap, it took my front wing out, so I was forced to pit. I came back from being last on the first lap to finishing sixth at the [chequered] flag. I remember overtaking Jenson Button in the McLaren on the outside of Copse, then Lewis Hamilton through Maggots and Becketts, I was just flying through the field having a lot of fun. That was definitely a good one.”
Perhaps they might not be “flying through the field” this time around, but Haas are long overdue a good result in this race. With two Grands Prix in a row at Silverstone, could this be the year they end their hoodoo?