Haas denies selling stake, expects to stay in F1 under new budget cap

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Haas Formula 1 boss Guenther Steiner has denied claims owner Gene Haas has sold a stake in the team.

The future of the American outfit has been uncertain for some time now, with speculation before the coronavirus that Haas could pull the plug after this year if results didn't improve.

Asked about the speculation in a Zoom meeting with the media, however, Steiner was clearly frustrated by the unfounded claims.

"I don't know where it comes from," he said. "I think it's now the third time that Gene has sold the team, or partly sold the team. I think this is all speculation. I think somebody is putting some rumours out there.

"We were [reportedly] sold to Saudi Arabia a year ago," Steiner recalled. "We were already sold and the deal was done but nobody ever spoke with Saudi Arabia.

"I see this a little bit of trying to make a storm in a teacup for no good reason. Gene Haas is still the 100% owner of Haas. He never had a partner. He maybe doesn't want a partner. He maybe doesn't need a partner."

Haas F1 Team Kevin Magnussen

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This speculation though does come at a time when Williams is up for sale and McLaren is considering selling a 30 percent stake in its Racing division.

But should Haas ever follow suit, Steiner insists it would be done with full disclosure.

"When the time is right that he [Gene Haas] wants to do it, we will communicate it," he said. "And I say we: that is Haas F1, and not everybody else having an opinion on who owns Haas and who is acquiring Haas and who is buying shares in Haas.

"If somebody wants to buy a team out there, I think Williams did a very good job in how they managed it. They put it on the market, said we are interested in something, speak with these and these people. I think that is how it should be done, and not speculation with no foundation.

"I think there are a lot of people that wish to buy an F1 team, and tell people that they're going to buy one. But they haven't done it, at least not with Haas."

As for the team's future on the grid, the Haas chief says the financial measures taken, while not perfect, are still very positive.

"The budget cap, I think it's a good thing for the sport in general, even if it is not completely equal with everybody," he said.

"We will still be under the budget cap, but it's a very good step. Now the difference will not be $150million to the big teams, but maybe $20million, which is a very good step.

"To make it break even, there is a chance to do that for the future. That is the aim for us. That needs to be my aim, to make it break even for Mr Haas. And if I make that one happen, for sure he will sign the Concorde Agreement."

The only warning that Steiner has, however, is that the levels F1 has now agreed too should remain the maximum going forward regardless of economic strength.

"We came together and decided on a budget cap, a lower one and it is a good initiative," he claimed.

"We decided very quickly that we take the car forward from this year to next year, and the 2022 regulations should make the car cheaper.

"I think we learned already some [lessons from it]. Now, we need to make sure that we don't forget about and then, when the good times come, the first thing we do is, 'oh let's discuss taking the budget cap up again, or take it away'.

"I don't think it will happen, but I will keep it in my mind that we shouldn't be doing it. And that is how we come out stronger."