On the eve of what could be the announcement that ends Mick Schumacher’s F1 career, Guenther Steiner has hit back at naysayers criticising his handling of the German driver.
After a point-less debut campaign, much was expected of Schumacher in his second season with Haas as history has shown that’s the year he comes into his own.
But this season history did not repeat itself, the 23-year-old recording more big crashes, three, than he has top ten finishes, two.
It’s caused a fair amount of frustration for Steiner, who has made it clear more than once that Schumacher’s seat is up for grabs.
His uncle Ralf hasn’t been impressed, telling Sky Deutschland that “apart from” Steiner, Haas has done a decent job.
He added: “If you are so critical of the drivers, use self-criticism.”
Former driver Hans-Joachim Stuck also had a go, telling ServusTV “Steiner was wrong to unnecessarily put Mick under pressure with useless criticism.”
Steiner has shrugged off the criticism of his management style.
“It doesn’t [bother him],” he said as per GPFans. “Just look who says it. You judge the people like this.
“I’ve got my opinion about the people and I don’t need to write it on social media because I’ve got enough confidence to know what I do.”
He does, however, concede that fans are swayed by what they hear from ‘those people’.
“Absolutely,” he said. “They are influenced but that is part of the game.
“But going into battle and always justifying when you know you did the right thing is like, ‘Okay, a few fans are against that’. Tough s**t!”
Although Steiner and team owner Gene Haas have both stated Schumacher will have as near to the final lap of the season to impress his team bosses, Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko believes the decision has already been made.
And it’s not good reading for the 23-year-old.
According to Marko, Haas will “bet on a veteran” in Nico Hulkenberg with Schumacher handed his marching orders.
The 79-year-old reckons it’s a good choice.
“Hulkenberg has proven he can jump into a car as a reserve driver without any test kilometres – into the cold water, so to speak – and always deliver,” he told ServusTV. “That speaks volumes for him.”
There is speculation doing the rounds that Hulkenberg could be confirmed as early as the Thursday of the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Haas have previously stated their deadline is the post-Abu Dhabi test, the team wanting their 2023 line up in the car on the Tuesday.
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