Guenther Steiner explains reasons behind decision to axe Mick Schumacher

Mick Schumacher on the grid with Daniel Ricciardo and George Russell. Singapore October 2022 Credit: Alamy
Mick Schumacher on the grid with Daniel Ricciardo and George Russell. Singapore October 2022 Credit: Alamy

Guenther Steiner has said Haas have decided to go with bringing more experience to their 2023 line-up by swapping out Mick Schumacher for Nico Hulkenberg.

After weeks and months of speculation, Haas finally confirmed on the eve of the final race of the F1 2022 season in Abu Dhabi that Schumacher’s stay with the team will be coming to an end after two years.

Replacing him is a driver with over 180 race starts in Formula 1 and someone who has experience working at multiple Formula 1 teams having first started his career with Williams in 2010.

It was this fundamental element that Haas focused on in their decision-making process as to who would partner Kevin Magnussen in 2023.

“I think that the experience of multi-years in Formula 1 that never have been with another team than us,” Steiner told media, including PlanetF1, when asked what Schumacher was missing.

“So by Nico being seen [as a driver with] three or four teams before, experience [is key] and experience takes time to make, and in the moment, we don’t have time, because we want to move forward.

“We don’t want to be where we are. Now, we want to get better.

“It is not Mick’s fault that we are where we are and we only have ourselves to blame, but we need to come up again and there is a shorter way by taking a guy with a lot of experience, which has done this in multiple teams.”

There has been continued criticism from some quarters of how Schumacher has been treated at Haas, especially in his quest to try and secure a third year with the team, but Steiner believes he gave the German driver all the support he could to help achieve that goal.

“Absolutely, I think we did a good job in that one,” Steiner said.

“I think as I always said, we treat every every driver fair and we do the best we can. And sometimes it wasn’t good enough from the team. I’m fully standing behind that, you know, it wasn’t [always] him not performing.

“We had issues. We were not good enough and we need to fix that one. But I think we always gave him the best we could and were always fair, there was equality with the drive of last year and this year.

“There was always no issue with that one.”

Schumacher’s time at Haas has been peppered with costly crashes, but Steiner said it wasn’t this factor alone that ultimately sealed his fate.

He added: “It’s part of it, but you cannot just say, ‘Oh, he crashed’, obviously, which wasn’t good.

“I’m not trying to make it good now, but then you can see how much influence these very good results have, you know, it’s this balance, you need to find.

“One thing that was very good was when he finished in Austin and Silverstone, those were very good results. And then you had the bad things to catch us.

“So it’s a mix of it, but it was not one event, but it’s a combination of things.

“And the biggest thing is going forward is we just want to build up the team again.”

Steiner also revealed that he only informed Schumacher on Wednesday that his contract would not be renewed and not at the São Paulo Grand Prix weekend as first rumoured.

“I spoke with him yesterday [Wednesday],” Steiner disclosed.

“He was very grown up, I must admit, and we thank him for what he did.

“You know, it wasn’t always rosy here but he took it as a grown up as I said. It’s always emotional and it’s never nice to do this but I just wanted to speak with him about it.”

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

Read more: Where did it all go wrong for Mick Schumacher…and what comes next?

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