Haas team principal Guenther Steiner believes his team has come under extra scrutiny from its rivals now that the American outfit has become more competitive.
The comments, made in the team's Singapore Grand Prix preview, come after rivals Renault protested the legality of Romain Grosjean's car at the Italian Grand Prix. The No.8 Haas was found to have an illegal floor and was disqualified from its sixth-place finishing position as a result, dropping Haas back behind Renault in the battle for fourth position in the constructors' championship.
The car fell foul of a regulation that was clarified in a technical directive on July 25, with the teams being given until the Italian Grand Prix to adapt their designs. Haas notified the FIA that its suppliers would not be able to produce a new floor in time and would instead run the floor it had used since June's Canadian Grand Prix, leaving it open to a protest.
Haas appealed its disqualification at Monza this week and Steiner believes the true motivation for the investigation came from its rivals being concerned by the progress Haas has made.
"I wouldn't expect it [the extra scrutiny], but sometimes people react this way," Steiner said. "If they cannot beat you on the track, they try to beat you in court. That is what seems to be happening.
"You have to work hard to be envied. We'd rather work hard for it and fight even more."
Asked if the competition was shifting from the track to the paddock, Steiner added: "Absolutely. Sometimes, you have to do that. You take any approach in racing. Is it the right thing to do? I'll let others determine that."
But Steiner remains proud of his team, which is fighting for fourth place in the constructors' championship despite only being in its third season of competition.
"I would say we are surpassing our own expectations a little bit because fighting with a works team like Renault, we didn't think we could do that at any time, never mind in our third year. I think everybody can be pretty proud of that."