Guenther Steiner has said that negotiations to resign Kevin Magnussen were 'simplistic', as the Dane restarted his Formula 1 career with a flourish as he topped day two of testing.
After the messy departure of pay driver Nikita Mazepin who left the team along with title sponsor Uralkali, Haas immediately began their search for a replacement driver who could partner Mick Schumacher for the 2022 season.
Many had predicted that the team's reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi would take Mazepin's vacant seat as the Brazilian had undergone a seat fitting in the team's new VF-22. However, on the eve of the first day of testing, Magnussen was unexpectedly announced as the team's second driver, with the Dane earning himself a multi-year deal in the process.
Magnussen showed that he hadn't lost any of his old speed in his first session back in Formula 1 as he made full use of the extra track time given by the team to set the fastest time of the day.
When speaking in a media session in which MotorLat were present, Steiner revealed that there were virtually negotiations between the pair and that the deal was an easy one to sign.
"I think (when) you know the person pretty well. After four years, you work with him; we didn't even have to discuss it. We said We got to do this. It was both ways. Yeah, we are going to do this. And that was it was pretty simplistic. There was no negotiation or anything. It's like, you know, I know what he wants, I know what we want, you know, and it's the same thing. I mean, we are here to get better again, and we need him to help us to do that like he did last time."
Mazepin has recently spoken out against the team in the wake of his dismissal, as he accused the team of providing unsafe equipment. The Russian also announced that he was considering taking legal action against Haas over the termination of his contract.
His unhappy one and only season in Formula 1 saw him struggle to match Schumacher's pace. The pair's relationship hit rock bottom in Holland when Mazepin hit out at Schumacher for not letting him through in the latter stages of Q1, blocking Sebastian Vettel in the process and earning the pair a trip to the stewards' room.
Nevertheless, Steiner argued that the signing of the young Russian wasn't a mistake, as he said that the signing was the correct one at the time considering the team's predicament.
"I wouldn't say it was the wrong decision; it was the right decision at the time. And, because we knew 21 would be a difficult year with a car, which was an attempt to do something, and knowing that the car would not be good in 21. We knew that from 20 onwards when we started to develop, and we said we could do that and we try using another way. And then we said, Okay, I think we are ready again, to go the other way. We want to go up again, you know, and we took that decision to go with somebody experienced at that time, a week ago."
In spite of being snubbed by the team for the second race seat, Fittipaldi tested for Haas yesterday evening before handing the car back to the regular drivers for today's session.
Fittipaldi would have been the backup option for the second seat if the Dane had elected to stay in sportscar racing with Peugeot and Chip Ganassi.
"I would say if the talks with Kevin would have stalled. I think that would have been the fallback position because it was just too close to the first race to the test, you know, so, but it was not really discussed, because I said before. Maybe Kevin had moved on pretty good."
"I spoke with Pietro. I don't remember the day I called him up one morning. I told him; obviously, it wasn't his happiest moment for obvious reasons. But I explained to him why. And he's a team player, and he's still part of the team. I mean, he's out now testing. So I would say yeah, he understands it. Obviously, he would have preferred to be in the car himself."