Steiner working hard to keep Haas alive
"The company must not crash now"
Gunther Steiner says he is working hard to protect Haas from collapse amid the coronavirus pandemic.
He is in North Carolina, where he lives and runs the small American team. Steiner said the US state is partially closed but the locals are "calmer" than elsewhere.
"People have respect for the future, but are not yet afraid," he told f1-insider.com. "The shelves in the supermarket are currently full."
Indeed, the data is now beginning to show that outside of big cities, coronavirus is having a milder impact.
"Life still has to go on somehow. Personal freedom is the greatest asset in the United States," said Steiner.
The impact on Haas, though, is huge. Some have already expressed fears that without races to attend, the smaller teams in particular could collapse.
"At the moment, daily crisis management is required. But you must never forget tomorrow. Even if nobody knows at the moment when it is," said Steiner.
"The company must not crash now.
"When the green light comes back on, we have to be ready to offer something to the fans already. My hope is that it will start again in July."
Steiner said he is spending more time with his family, but he is extremely busy working on Formula 1 matters in his home office.
"I have to keep the company going, especially financially," he said.
Asked by Auto Motor und Sport if he is able to run the team properly at present, he answered: "Absolutely not. Because nobody knows what happens next.
"We can only be ready to put together the best possible product once this virus is under control so that we can do as many races as possible by the end of the year," said Steiner.
"We also need to make sure that we can handle the financial side. This year we will receive less money because we are not racing, so we have to make sure that all the teams are still there next year," he added.
"If we all work together - keep the ten teams together - we may get out of this situation even better. For the sport and all of our employees."
One option being discussed, he admitted, is a reduction in the new $175m budget cap for 2021.
"Exactly," said Steiner. "We have a situation that we cannot change so we have to deal with it realistically. I think everybody’s first goal is that all ten teams are in Melbourne next year.
"If we don’t have a world championship at all, it will be difficult for many teams to survive."
Another measure being discussed is a change to the weekend format, with the possibility of two-day events and even two races per weekend.
"It’s all a work in progress," said Steiner. "There are so many open questions.
"If we do something that doesn’t work, at least we will know not to do that in the future. Now we have to do certain things to survive."
Team owner Gene Haas has been hinting for some time that 2020 could be the team’s last in F1 anyway. Steiner said the boss is currently paying all the bills and staff.
"We need to see we get through the period where our people are at home - that all of them get paid. Gene is ensuring that. So that we don’t disappear in the short term.
"Then we just have to see how it goes and what he wants to do. It’s not easy when we don’t have races."
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