Guenther Steiner responds to Toto Wolff’s comments on Mick Schumacher and also elaborates on the things he wrote in his book.
For Schumacher, it was a challenging two seasons in motorsport’s blue riband category. After no points for a long run, the German had two impressive drives to the points at Silverstone and the Red Bull Ring in a much better show from him.
However, it wasn’t enough for Steiner. Three particular crashes in Jeddah, Monaco and Suzuka cost the US team in excess of $2m. In his book “Survive to Drive” which was launched this month, the Haas chief was particularly critical of Schumacher in reference to two accidents in Monaco and Suzuka.
Apart from the book, Steiner and Gene Haas had been vocal as seen in Netflix Drive to Survive as well. Wolff, who has now hired Schumacher as third driver at Mercedes s of the view that Steiner would have treated the German different had his father Michael been at race weekends.
“I’m looking out for the little one,” said Wolff to Blick. “I can only say that his parents did nothing wrong in bringing him up. And I claim that if Michael had accompanied his son during the two Haas years, Steiner would not have dared to treat Mick like that.”
But Steiner was not amused much by it whatsoever. “What I have to say is, if my father would have been around Toto wouldn’t have said the things he said,” he advised in quick reposte when speaking to Sky Sports F1, before going in-depth on the issues that they had while being together and how difficult it became at one point.
“It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t easy to manage that one because there was a lot of pressure from outside because of his last name,” started Steiner. “Then obviously he had the big crashes, which was very difficult to manage as well for the team because it was big damage. Which again you need to re-focus your budget on different things, as now with the budget cap you need to invest money in performance”.
“It wasn’t easy, but racing is not easy and coming up for young guys in Formula 1 is very tough and nobody deserves to be in Formula 1, you need to perform.” In his book, Steiner mentioned that he was frequently criticized by the German media about how he managed the situation, with his beef against Ralf very known in the paddock”.
He reckons it eventually divided the two rather than bringing them together as a unit. “I think they tried to put pressure on to keep Mick and blame all the team and I don’t think that was good for Mick,” said Steiner. “In the end, they didn’t actively try to divide us but that’s what they did”.
“I think he didn’t feel good when he heard the things talked about me and I didn’t feel good coming from their side. In the end, they tried to divide us. This is not good for Mick, even if they try to do this because in the end the team decides who is going to drive the car and not the driver which car he is driving”.
“There is no point to upset a team about a driver because you want to say ‘Guenther didn’t take care enough of Mick and how I do things’. In the end, he scored points. Nobody says ‘that’s because Guenther managed Mick like this’, nobody came with that and I don’t expect that like I don’t expect to be blamed if he crashes. The driver has to do that himself to get the points and not to crash”.
“The responsibility of the team is to give the driver the best car they can, and we always did that, and be fair to both drivers that they both get the same level of car, we always did that. And if we didn’t do that then we explained, for example, that an upgrade, only one part was available and you share it”.
“We were very open about it, we never hid anything or gave an advantage to one or the other driver because that is a principle of my life – you need to treat people fairly to get the best out of it. In the end, who wants the drivers to perform at their best? Me and the team so why would I try to sabotage any of our drivers?”
“In the end, this is part of a team principal life that some people don’t like what you’re doing. I don’t really care if somebody doesn’t like what I do. Just say it – it doesn’t do anything, I will not change because I don’t feel I need to change because of somebody who has not walked in the team,” summed up Steiner.
The bottom line for Schumacher was that whatever team he drove for in F1, purely and simply because of his surname, he was always going to be under pressure as his father had been a seven time World Champion. As a result there was always going be those who would compare and contrast the careers of the two.
The same could also be said of Damon Hill and Nico Rosberg, both drivers fathers had been World Champions in the past and there would always be a comparison of father to son and the success of the latter. Both of course became World Champions in their own right.
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