Haas can “absolutely” target Renault in F1 midfield battle

Haas Formula 1 team boss Gunther Steiner believes his outfit can now “absolutely” target overhauling Renault for fourth place in the constructors’ standings.

Haas leapfrogged midfield rivals Force India and McLaren with its first double finish of the season at the Red Bull Ring. Romain Grosjean finally ended his streak of misfortune by taking fourth, ahead of teammate Kevin Magnussen.

Haas thus now lies just 13 points behind Renault, and while acknowledging that retirements ahead boosted the Austrian result. Steiner is adamant that the team can keep looking forward.

Asked by Motorsport.com if fourth was a realistic target, he said: “Absolutely. “You cannot just target fifth because we are fifth now – you need to always try to get more.

“Luck goes around. Sometimes somebody gets lucky and somebody else gets unlucky.

“Renault is a strong team, they know what they are doing, and for sure they will not make it easy for us. We got lucky to have three more positions than we normally would have, but again, now we can try to fight but we have also to keep the other ones behind us.

“Force India and McLaren are still very strong as well. Today we got a little bit of a leg up to come back. We will try to get to fourth. If we achieve it or not, we don’t know, but sure, you always try to go forward.”

Steiner agreed that the result made up for the disaster in Australia, where both drivers lost strong finishes after wheel issues in their pit stops.

“I think it’s a redemption. We got back. Everybody was ‘Oh the team must be demoralised’ and all that. They never were. Everybody knows the potential of the car, and if you know the potential then it will come if you work hard. And it came.

“This is fantastic, the 50th race, to finish fourth and fifth is for the guys. You can imagine how happy they are – both cars in the points, Romain scored for the first time this year. And heavy points, not just a few. It’s just a very successful weekend.”

Steiner added that beating teams with more resources was particularly satisfying: “It’s nice, and it’s credit to our team. We are only in total a little bit more than 200 people working on this car, and we are fighting with teams which have got 600-plus people. It’s a fantastic place to be. Everybody within the team can be proud of achieving that.”

Team owner Gene Haas believes that consistency is the key, and that proved important in Austria.

“We were lucky this weekend,” the American told Motorsport.com. “Who knows, we might not be lucky next weekend.

“I think that shows how close it is. I know Renault had mechanical problems, that happens to us all the time. We’ve got to be consistent.

“This is probably one of the first races in a long time where we got all three days right, we got Friday, Saturday and Sunday right, and that’s what it takes.

“It’s been a long road, but it never comes easy. We’ve always been kind of weak in the mid-season, so this is a good time to make it up. We can finish like this in the points every other race, it’s a whole new team.

“With our bad luck I was hoping we would make it to the last lap without hitting something, and we did it. So who knows, maybe we’ve broken that bad string of luck!”

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