Haas had a terrible weekend at the Bahrain Grand Prix. The VF-21 was the slowest car on the grid and Sunday's race proved it. Combining a slow car with two rookie drivers means Haas and team principal Guenther Steiner should be prepared for a long season ahead.
Despite the team's woes, the two Haas debutants didn't help themselves either. Nikita Mazepin (whose father is Haas' primary sponsor) lasted a mere two corners before spinning and crashing. Mick Schumacher finished the race, but struggled for much of the 56 laps, finishing a lowly P16 with no active runners behind him.
Haas have frozen development on their 2021 car
Even before the start of the 2021 season, team principal Guenther Steiner made it clear that the 2021 car will not see any development throughout the season. Haas has decided to shift their focus and resources to the car for the 2022 season.
Knowing that the team would finish behind Williams this season, Steiner said that spending money on a car to beat a single team is not ideal. For Haas, the new 2022 regulations are more significant for the team's future.
Steiner said the following:
“The car was bad in 2019, it didn’t get a lot better in 2020 and all of a sudden we invest a year of development in a car that’s only going to do 23 races? That would be complete madness in my opinion."
Haas has one of the lowest revenues in Formula 1, which suggests that the team must be efficient in their processes. Spending all their crucial money on a car that has no future after this season would be foolish according to the team principal. However, Steiner remains optimistic for the future despite knowing the team will not be competitive in 2021.
“For me, we’ll be [at the] back this year, but next year hopefully we can – or the aim is to – get back to where we were in 2018, not where we were in 2019 or 2020.”
The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix will see the final set of upgrades to Haas' VF-21 before the team shifts their development focus to the 2022 regulations.
The drivers find themselves in a bad situation. Although the team will not put pressure on the rookies to deliver meaningful performances, the experience gained at the back of the grid is insignificant compared to battling in the midfield. The drivers have no one to race but each other, a situation that George Russell found himself in at Williams two years ago.
That being said, driving in Formula 1 is a privilege, and regardless of how slow Haas' VF-21 is, it is still the 10th fastest car on the planet.