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Steiner stands by shady Hungarian GP strategy call

Haas team boss Guenther Steiner says that a given another chance he would repeat the bold formation lap strategy call that warranted a time penalty for his drivers in the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Haas called in both Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean at the end of the event’s formation lap in order to switch its cars from wet to dry tyres, betting on a quick improvement of track conditions.

The gamble paid off for Magnussen who finished ninth on the road, but after the race the Hungarian Grand Prix stewards deemed the early strategy call a breach of Article 27.1 of the F1 sporting regulations, which states “The driver must drive the car alone and unaided”.

    Magnussen: Haas VF20 not yet ‘strong enough’ to target Q1

The FIA stewards had thus frowned upon the team’s action to instruct both drivers to pit for slick tyres at the end of the formation lap during a period when pit-to-car radio silence is imposed, and handed a 10-second time penalty to Haas’ drivers, a punishment that demoted Magnussen to P10.

Steiner, who called the stewards’ decision “ambiguous”, insists he would make the same call if he had to do it all over again.

“For sure we would do the same thing again,” Steiner said.

“The 10 second penalty was a little bit ambiguous. Unfortunately, we cannot appeal it because it’s a time penalty – you’re not allowed to appeal those ones.

“It was never done before, and it looks like if it’s never been done before – and there’s no clear regulation, you get a penalty.

“We need to move on from this, but it spiced the race up for everybody. I don’t think we should stop doing these things in racing, otherwise accountants can race in Formula 1.”

Fortunately, while Grosjean was classified a lowly P16 after the time penalty was applied, Magnussen’s margin allowed the Dane to remain in the top-ten and secure a championship point, a valued achievement in a season in which points will likely be hard to come by for Haas.

“I obviously feel we should get in (Q2) but unfortunately we don’t,” explained the Italian team boss;

“We’re just lacking the speed in qualifying and that’s something we have to live with, as we’re not planning any big upgrades and there are no engine upgrades.

“We just need to fight and always try to do a good job, then we can hope we move on.

“Yes, we’ve had a lot of inconsistency, but I think we know pretty well where we’re at.

“We’re not the fastest midfield car this year, and we just need to deal with that one. We’re always trying to get the best out of the package.

“We’ve not planned any development for this year, so we have to focus on getting the best out of what we’ve got this season and look to next year to try to do something better for that season. It will not be an easy year, but we’re here to stay.”

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