Haas understands big teams’ stance on F1 sprint races

Haas Formula 1 chief Gunther Steiner believes the stance of the top teams over sprint race plans for 2022 and budget cap allowances is understandable amid the current deadlock.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes W12, Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB16B, Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari SF21, and Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT02

F1 trialled a new sprint race weekend format at three events in 2021, staging a 100km race on Saturday to set the grid for the grand prix on Sunday.

Plans were being formulated by F1 to expand sprints to six events in 2022 and revise elements of the format, such as points payout and the designation of pole position for the grand prix.

But a stalemate has emerged in talks amid resistance from the top teams, who wanted the budget cap to be increased to cover possible crash damage from the sprints.

McLaren boss Zak Brown said the push from one team for a $5 million increase to the budget cap was “ridiculous” and “had no rational facts behind it”.

The deadlock could result in a compromise of sprint races being scaled back to just three events once again this year, with talks set to continue in the coming weeks.

Haas F1 team principal Steiner said on Friday that he expected it to end up in sprints taking place at three races this year, with the upcoming F1 Commission meeting providing a chance to “see more where we are”.

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1, on the grid with a mechanic

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1, on the grid with a mechanic

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Asked by Autosport if he was disappointed by the big teams’ stance on sprint races, Steiner appreciated they were “trying to do the best job they can” and play to their strengths.

“If you've got money, the thing you need is a bigger budget cap - like when you haven’t got the money, what you try to do is to get more money,” Steiner said.

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“So I think they're just doing their job. It doesn't disappoint me. But I think you've got the governance in place which will deal with it. That is what you have to do.

"We have to lobby on the other side that it doesn’t happen.

"So I think they try to use their power to move something that would help them to perform, which is being able to spend more money.

“Some teams just need more money, the budget cap is not the problem, it’s actually the cash [that] is the problem. I think the majority of people have got that problem.

“There is a governance in place, and that will sort the problem out in my opinion.”

Teams are set to meet with F1 officials at the next commission on 14 February. Eight of the 10 teams need to give their support for a rule change over sprints to be passed for the regulations.

The opening race of the year in Bahrain, which had originally been earmarked as a possible host for a sprint event, takes place on 20 March.

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