Guenther Steiner has outlined his belief that Haas can return to the midfield in 2022.
The team found themselves at the back of the field in 2021, having made the decision to abandon development on the car in order to focus on preparing for the new technical regulations being introduced into the sport this season.
With a budget cap also in effect, Steiner thinks that this will help to bring the pack closer together.
"It's a complete new era, technically and also business-wise," Steiner said in an exclusive interview with RacingNews365.com.
"Because it's the first time the budget cap should [or] will have an impact, because last year obviously we had a budget cap, but the carryover [caused] a little bit of a mixed bag of everything.
"But this year, it's the first car designed under a budget cap, so I think it will have - not only to Haas, I would say in general speaking, in theory - [the effect that] the field should be closer together."
Whilst Steiner acknowledges that the bigger teams may still have an advantage initially, he expects this to even out in time, meaning that "in two [or] three years, anybody should [find it] possible to have a good result".
The Team Principal added: "It should make it more interesting and hopefully, as much as Mercedes doesn't like to hear this, not having a dominance of one team over a long period of time, which I think is benefiting the sport more than anything else."
Can Haas return to where they were in 2022?
Whilst Haas have faced some struggles over the past three seasons, the American outfit previously had some much stronger years in Formula 1, having finished fifth in the 2018 Constructors' Championship.
Steiner admits that he doesn't see why the squad cannot work their way back up again in 2022, especially given that Haas achieved this prior success whilst working with a similar budget to that brought in by the cap.
"In racing, you always look back at your last race, which was not good for us, which was s**t," he explained.
"But, three years ago, from nowhere, without the budget cap, we finished fifth in 2018. So why should we not get back to that one?
"I would say the older teams are closer together now than they were in '18. There was nobody lagging behind. And, again, it doesn't work only for us, the budget cap, it works for everybody else. So you need to do a good job to get there. It's not as easy as we say.
"But we always worked with a budget in that region. For us, it's nothing new to [have a] budget in that region. For us, this is what we did from the beginning, actually. We had less in the beginning, and when we finished eighth, we didn't have for sure more than we have now."
How the competition could affect Haas' position
However, Steiner is aware that Haas' place in the pecking order may be affected by what their competitors are doing.
"I think we can go back, but also the other ones, which were behind us in '18, they could go forward," the Italian said.
"But, on the other side, you have to see the opportunity, [that] the people [who] were ahead of us, they could go backwards.
"Also, I think the field will be more competitive, but we have been fifth in '18, eighth in '16 in our first season, so I think we can get back to the midfield.
"We have got still a lot of the same people there [on the team]. [On the] technical side, I think we are better set up than we were in the beginning, right now.
"So I think there is a chance. Obviously the proof is in the pudding, and all the other ones will be doing the same. I cannot say how good the other ones are, or I cannot see it yet, what they will be."
Steiner "cautiously optimistic" for 2022
When asked directly whether he believes that Haas can be in the midfield in 2022, Steiner replied: "Yes."
The team boss admits, though, that predicting the outcome of the upcoming season is difficult, given the regulations changes. However, it is the introduction of the new rules that gives him optimism for what Haas can achieve.
"I don't know the prediction. As I said, I'm cautiously optimistic," Steiner added.
"Not because we are this good, [but] because, with the regulation change, there is a good possibility that this is happening. That a lot of people can be in the midfield, that the field is closer, and we are part of it.
"Therefore, I don't have the prediction, because I don't know what the other ones are doing, so I would not give a prediction about other people. I have no idea and I would just guess."
Haas will race with an unchanged driver line-up in 2022, with Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin returning for their second F1 season with the team.
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