MARINA BAY, Singapore — Haas team principal Guenther Steiner says Renault’s protest against Romain Grosjean’s car at the Italian Grand Prix broke a gentlemen’s agreement between Formula One teams.
Grosjean’s car finished sixth at Monza but was disqualified after Renault protested the dimensions of the Haas’ floor. Haas has appealed that decision, maintaining that the stewards did not fully understand the complexities of situation surrounding the case, and a date has been set in early November for a hearing at the FIA’s court of appeal.
But aside from the complexities of the original decision, Steiner says F1 teams have a gentlemen’s agreement that they will tell each other before the race if they plan to protest so that their rivals can react.
“My opinion is that for a long time there was not a protest after the race — it’s a long, long time [since the last one],” he said. “I’m a little bit surprised but then I’m not because what would do you do?
“I wouldn’t have done the same. I would have done what other people have done before. But Renault is in a position that they need to make sure they are not overtaken for fourth position [in the constructors’ championship]. And I think they thought that they need to do something otherwise they finish fifth.”
Asked if he was referring to a specific gentlemen’s agreement between teams, Steiner said: “Absolutely. They can say [before the race] if this is not fixed, we are going to protest you. That’s what I was talking about because it was before my time the last time this was done.
“I don’t know why they did it, but it’s one of these things. Renault did what it need to do, but I think a lot of people have questioned it internally and they are right to.”
Steiner believes the stewards did not fully understand Haas’ position during the original hearing in Monza and hopes the court of appeal will be in a better position to take in all the details.
“It’s a mix of taking regulations, interpretation, ambiguity and information — it’s very complex,” he said. “I think the stewards didn’t understand what we tried to explain. They disqualified us but at the court of appeal they have a better understanding and more time for us to explain how it went down.”
Asked about his chances of success, Steiner added: “It’s 50/50, it could go both ways. I would never say I am confident of winning it because you never know what is happening.
“We have no control on the decision, you can do the best you can with your lawyers and your technical people to explain what actually happened, the whole process and why we ended up where we were and why they got it wrong. But then again, I’m not on the court of appeal. I cannot decide, so I would say 50/50 so it could go both ways.”