Haas F1 team have come under scrutiny so far this year following their decision to sign two rookie drivers in Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin. The two drivers have made it very clear both on and off track that there is no love lost between them, with their difficult relationship coming to the forefront last weekend.
When asked about the role of the pit wall in last weekend’s incident, with Mazepin unaware that his teammate had been given permission to pass him prior to their final runs in Q1, team principal Guenther Steiner said the team recognised the failing in communication and it was an “easy fix”.
“That is what happened on Saturday last week.” He explained. “Nikita [Mazepin] was under the impression, it wasn’t clear enough that we told him, that we instructed Mick [Schumacher]. Mick had the instruction from us that he is allowed to do it.
“That was why he was a little bit upset, more than a little bit maybe, but I think we learned out of that to be more clear on that. That, I would say, is an easy fix.”
The drivers’ strained relationship is an issue the team is familiar with, as they had numerous teammate collisions between former drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen during their tenure.
With the team in the midst of their worst season in Formula 1, and already focussing their resources on 2022, a strong and harmonious driver pairing would be a major advantage. When asked if he plans on controlling the team's drivers via team orders in order to prevent any further incidents, Steiner said he did not as it would interfere with their development.
“I could put it down and say this is what we are doing. I don’t want to do that, intentionally, because then they don’t learn how to race. If I say whoever qualifies in front stays in front and things like this, it is not beneficial for the team.
“Then we do not prepare them for next year when we will be in a different position. There is a very easy solution, just tell them what to do and they have to obey it if they want or not. That is not the intention, that is not productive in my opinion, so I want to get to a point where they both understand, for their futures and their careers, how to do racing clean but also hard."
Steiner was quizzed extensively about the team's intentions regarding both of their drivers. When questioned on the speculation over a recent post on social media by Nikita Mazepin which many believe indicates his intention to move to Alfa Romeo, he indicated he had no knowledge of any such plans, citing he wasn’t aware of the post.
When asked if the team were closer to agreeing terms with Schumacher than Mazepin, he simply stated no and claimed he is “fine with both of them”. Steiner later confirmed the team's agreement with Ferrari, which may indicate Schumacher’s position with the team is secure, given his close ties with Ferrari who’s junior programme, the Ferrari Driver Academy, he joined in 2019.
“We have an agreement between the two of us, I cannot go into what exactly is in the contract but we have agreed that we take one of the Ferrari drivers.”