Steiner unrepentant over casting out Schumacher

Guenther Steiner (ITA) Haas F1 Team Prinicipal. 30.03.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Preparation Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images
© XPB 

Haas F1 Team principal Guenther Steiner has no regrets about terminating Mick Schumacher's role with the squad at the end of 2022, confirming that the young German's accident-prone season was the reason why he had to go.

Steiner said the last straw was Schumacher's accident just after the end of practice for the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka, in which the car was written off.

“It happened on the in-lap!" he wrote, still incredulous even all this time after the event. "Sure it was very wet out there on the track, but nobody else managed to write off a car while they were driving back to the pits.

"We lose a car after five minutes and now have to build another. I cannot have a driver who I am not confident can take a car around safely on a slow lap. It’s just ridiculous.

"How many people could we employ with $700,000? And I have to now find that money.” Reports suggest that in total, Schumacher's mishaps cost the team $2 million leading to Steiner's oft-cited quote “you cannot beat up a dead horse” about the driver.

“I think that was said in the heat of the moment," he admitted. "If you say something when you are racing, it’s very emotional and people forget that, you know? It’s one of those things.”

Mick Schumacher (GER) Haas VF-22 crashed out of the race. 29.05.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 7, Monaco Grand Prix, Monte Carlo, Monaco, Race

Steiner is the subject of a new profile interview for The Times newspaper this weekend, as he promotes his new book entitled Surviving to Drive: A Year Inside Formula 1, described as "an exhilarating account of a year" which will be published on April 20,

Steiner freely admits that the book was ghostwritten, as he was a bit busy with the day job at the time. But he pointed out that "I did [narrate] the audiobook myself!"

Of all the people in the paddock, it's arguably Steiner's personal profile that had benefitted the most from the popular Netflix behind the scenes documentary Drive To Survive, in which his unguarded comments have made headlines.

But one person who really isn't a fan of those moments and who doesn't watch the show for that reason is Steiner himself.

“Maybe I’ll watch it once when I’m not working any more,” he shrugged. “I don’t want to watch myself because if you watch yourself you get critical about your actions.

Guenther Steiner (ITA) Haas F1 Team Principal in the FIA Press Conference. 31.03.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Practice Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Moy / XPB Images

"I’m not an actor. My job is being a team principal, so that’s what I need to do," he explained. "If you watch it you get influenced. When you see a camera, you act differently and then it gets weird. And I don’t want to get weird."

Steiner's new celebrity status has helped boost Haas' profile in the sport as a whole. The team was the most recent addition to the F1 line-up in 2016 and still has a very limited budget, relying on a technical partnership with Ferrari to get by.

"If you go to Mercedes or Ferrari as a guest there’ll be an army of people to look after you. Whereas if you come to Haas as a guest, we’ll pass you some overalls or get you to wash up!"

But the need for money was evident in the hiring of rookie driver Nikita Mazepin for 2021, in large part thanks to the sponsorship of fertiliser export giant Uralkali run by Russian oligarch Dmitry Mazepin, his father.

Steiner deflected criticism of what appeared to many to be one of the most egregious examples of a 'pay driver' not ready for promotion to F1 in recent years.

Guenther Steiner (ITA) Haas F1 Team Principal. 02.03.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 1, Bahrain Grand Prix, Sakhir, Bahrain, Preparation Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images

“Obviously to go racing you need money," he said. "But if you look at the field at the moment, there are people who when they started had no money.

"Lewis is the perfect example. I know that Max Verstappen, his father raced in F1, but he didn’t have money and his father’s reputation wasn’t good. It wouldn’t have been a help for Max if he hadn’t had talent.

"So I think the talent still comes through. Obviously money is a bigger influence on your career than it is in football – if I would deny that, I would be Pinocchio – but in the end, you still need to have some talent.

"Lewis won the championship, Max won the championship, it’s still [all about] the talent. Nobody bought the championship. Yet.”

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