Haas F1 Team Principal Says Rookies Mick Schumacher, Nikita Mazepin Saved the Team09/21/2021
Haas F1 Team principal Gunther Steiner says he had no option other than to fire Haas’ former drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen and replace them with rookies Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin for 2021.
This year, the struggling American team, which has yet to score a point and is in last place in the F1 Constructors’ Championship standings, has been in the headlines for three main reasons—a conspicuous lack of pace, the controversial Mazepin, and the intensifying on- and off-track disputes between the Russian driver and teammate Schumacher.
After 2020, Haas surprised many F1 pundits by ousting its experienced driver lineup of Grosjean and Magnussen. Now, Steiner now says he had no choice.
“I had to find opportunities to keep the team going (financially),” Steiner said in an article published by the Danish tabloid Ekstra Bladet newspaper. “Many families depend on it. You have to make difficult decisions sometimes even if you don’t like them. There was no anger or dissatisfaction—it was just a business decision.
“The alternative was that we would not be here. People need to understand that. So if we had kept Kevin but Haas did not survive, Kevin wouldn’t have had a car to drive anyway,” Steiner told the Danish publication.
He says the answer he found was to take the two rookies with solid financial backing. Schumacher is a well-funded and Ferrari driver, while the company headed by Mazepin’s wealthy father Dmitry—Uralkali—is the team’s title sponsor.
Steiner admits it is at times more difficult to work with rookie drivers, but thinks it would have been a bad experience for Magnussen and Grosjean to drive the uncompetitive 2021 car anyway. Both drivers are now racing in the United States. Grosjean has three podiums, including two runner-up finishes, in the NTT IndyCar Series. Magnussen has reached the podium four times in eight races in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Series, and he’s started a race in IndyCar.
“We have always known that they were pretty good drivers,” Steiner said. “Otherwise we would not have had them here. They have moved into completely new territories and on top of that each in their own direction.
“There is no point having people here who are dissatisfied.At least the new drivers can learn about Formula 1 and get some experience. Giving two experienced drivers a car like this, we could all potentially pull the team down. Even if you paid them for it.
“I feel it myself. If 2022 was not coming, I would not want to do this season.”
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