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Before leaving Barcelona, Badger popped along the paddock to Haas to hear what Esteban Gutierrez and Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner had to say on the last day running at testing, ahead of the team’s first F1 race in Melbourne, and how the team had overcome their turbo, brake-by-wire and fuel system issues:

First up, Esteban;

On the last days running at the test:

“After all we have experienced, it was the best practice that we could have. We had a reasonably easy week at the first test, and then the second one was quite frustrating and complicated for everybody, but the team managed to react very quickly. We managed to solve the issues that we had, and this is a good start for a new team.”

We have found a good direction today, even today was not ideal at the end. In general I feel that we have done our best to prepare as much as possible, and now we are going back to racing.”

On who they are fighting this year:

“That is a very good question that I also asked myself, to be honest! This is what we will discover in Melbourne qualifying.”

Qualification – now an opportunity for Haas?

“It is a new qualifying format, and a change always gives opportunities to make a benefit at the beginning, so let’s see how that goes.

We have to be on top of our game, and understand properly the different strategies that can be managed, and try to take advantage of it.”

On whether the drivers were in favour of the qualification change:

“Does it make a difference now?” (Laughs)

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On the proposed “Halo”, and cockpit protection:

“It is clear that it is not ideal for visibility, but if it’s good for safety, it’s something that should go forward.

I think it’s good now that the teams are testing it, so that we can develop it and get a direction so that it looks a better fit on the car that is still very safe. If it’s going to save lives then I don’t think too much negatively about it.”

On being a new team working together on issues:

“I’ve been quite surprised by the level of professionalism in the team, and the attitude and effort from the mechanics, from the engineers, and everyone who has been involved in this 5 or 6 week journey.

It was really tough for everybody, you can see all the faces are very tired. It’s really something, the approach and the passion that we have and share together. As an experience, this is part of building a new team, and it’s been a different one.”

On how he feels in the car:

“I feel comfortable, I enjoy driving it. To be honest with you, I hope that it is as competitive as it feels – obviously we have to be very careful with our expectations, and we have to work very hard to get the car to the next level.

We didn’t manage to experiment a lot with the car, but we were able to solve the issues and the objectives that we had, so that’s a good step, and we will try to do our best to be competitive in Melbourne.”

Next up, Guenther:

On overcoming the issues this week:

The last three days were pretty difficult, but today was a good day, and even yesterday was a good day. We learnt a lot, we analysed the problem, the guys fixed it overnight and we came out this morning and could go running again.

We know now that in Australia this problem will not come up. We had a few challenging days, but that was to be expected as a new team – two weeks ago, we were not even a team, so the guys have done a fantastic job and worked very hard. I’m very proud of them. I cannot say that there are not any other problems coming by Australia, but at the moment, these ones are at rest.”

On standing on their own two feet with Ferrari kit:

“Ferrari helped us with the car to design it, but we have to run it. They run their car, and we run our car, and it’s working well.”

And do the team know enough about the car:

“You never know enough! You never know enough about anything, well, at least me!

I think we know as much as we could gain in 8 days of testing. If we had another 4 days, we would know more, and you always learn. These cars are so complex and you can do so much with them that you will never finish learning.”

Where the team stand competitively:

“I think I’ve always said lower midfield; if we are reliable in Australia, maybe we can surprise…it’s a tough three days in Australia but we are confident that we can go home with our heads up.”

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