Haas boss Guenther Steiner has revealed when he first started to realise that the team had built a good car for the 2022 season.
After sacrificing 2021 to focus on preparing for this year's new technical regulations, the American outfit kicked off the campaign in impressive style, with Kevin Magnussen finishing the Bahrain Grand Prix in fifth place. This marks the team's first points finish since 2020.
Steiner admits that he began to see potential in the VF-22 as early as the first pre-season test in Barcelona, though acknowledges that this does not always translate to performing well in a race.
"I think we realised that the car has potential in Spain, but we didn't run properly there," Steiner told media including RacingNews365.com.
"In Spain it's always very difficult because, in 2019, our car in Spain was fantastic, and when we got here [to Bahrain], it wasn't fantastic anymore.
"In Spain it was okay but we had some issues, and then when we came here, we actually realised that the car is not bad."
Steiner surprised by Haas' performance against others
Despite feeling positive about the car's prospects ahead of the season, Steiner was still left surprised by the fact that Haas managed to beat several other teams in Bahrain.
Speaking after Saturday's qualifying - where Magnussen claimed P7 on the grid, whilst teammate Mick Schumacher took P12 - the Team Principal explained: "You never know what the other ones are doing [before the season], but now we know that one as well.
"I think we realised it was good. Honestly, I expected some of the other teams to be in front of us."
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"Not too concerned" about losing out with upgrades
There has been much discussion about the focus on development for the 2022 season, but Steiner is not worried by the possibility of bigger teams getting ahead of Haas in terms of bringing more upgrades.
"I'm not too concerned about that, because we have got good things going on," Steiner said.
"You jumped at the conclusion that we don't do anything, [but] maybe I've already [got] developments going on.
"[The team] will be very - like everybody else has to be - careful how [we] deploy upgrades, because you need to stay in the budget cap, so you need to make big steps or relatively big steps for little money in order to stay within it.
"We are in the wind tunnel and and we made progress. I always think when you've got a new car, you need to understand what it is doing before we throw developments on, so I think that's most important for us, and then we see when we put the developments on."
Haas can "still get more" out of the VF-22
Steiner is confident that the team can continue to extract further potential from the 2022 car, particularly given that they experienced limited running in pre-season testing.
"I think we still can get a lot more out of this [specification] of car than we have got out up to now, because our testing was not ideal," Steiner added.
"We did only roughly half of the mileage that the other teams did, so we didn't play around with a lot of set-up changes and things like this, so they've got a lot to get out of this car before we start the changes.
"Everybody thinks as soon as you put the development on, it's going to be fantastic. But you have seen that's most of the time not the case."
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