Guenther Steiner speaks on his experiences handling two rookie drivers in 2021 and how the team bonded and developed over the course of the campaign.
It was a bold move when Haas announced at the end of 2020 that they were dropping the experience of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean for rookie duo Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin. Taking on two rookies was always a risk but something the team embraced in what they knew would be a transitional year as they focus on 2022.
With the Haas 2021 challenger so far off the pace compared to the rest of the grid, it left Schumacher and Mazepin with themselves as their only rivals. This, at times, caused friction within the team and on track as the two youngsters battled to prove themselves at the pinnacle of motorsport.
For Steiner this was a new experience of handling two rookies as opposed two experience campaigners. “I think there’s a lot yet to learn, it’s basically the simple way to explain it is like having children,” he said to media including FormulaRapida.net. “Obviously, they are not children but in something everything is new to them, everything is new to them but I have to learn how to work with them.”
The drivers are learning as they are going and while the talent and speed of both is not in dispute, their experience and know how is something that will come with experience and why the team has had to really work together to get the best out of their car. “It was an experience, I think we made a lot of progress through the year with both of them that’s everything, but it was an experience,” continued Steiner.
“Everybody can see that we made progress. You know before December we had issues and there were doubts but it’s just a player, it’s not a constant but all in all it was a big experience for me and it wasn’t an easy.” It was something that needed careful management from Steiner to keep both drivers happy and motivated.
Like he says it didn’t last forever and was diffused sufficiently. Tensions peaked during the mid season, Zandvoort being the standout but towards the end of the season, the friction settled and the pair look in good shape to start again next season. Adversity can bring people closer together and that’s what happened as Haas this year.
Their toughest season since entering the sport in 2016 for sure but it was a year of character building and gathering valuable experience and learning important lessons. “I’m quite impressed of how the guys kept on going and you just said it, they were never giving up we knew what we have done but we always keep fighting,” said Steiner. “A never give up attitude was born at Haas this year, something that will make them so much stronger in the future.
“Basically those guys kept fighting because also there’s about 60% of the people which are here from the beginning of the team. We know we can do it and everyone wants to comeback to go and gets points and fight in the mid-field. I wouldn’t say it was easy but a lot of team a group of people around me close to me which know what we’re doing and they keep always involved and everybody does his job,” summed up Steiner.
Team member stepped up this year to fight for Haas, there was a real feeling of it being a joint effort to get through the season and deliver the best they can. Any success was made all the more sweeter as a result. “It’s no point to go to every race weekend and tell you how great everything it will be, because they will not believe after a while they are a smart people, they just need to see what to do the best job and never give up and that’s the most important and keeps the team going,” concluded Steiner.
Wise words from Steiner as he puts emphasis on realism and relying on the morality of his team to do the best they can. A glimpse at his managerial style here. It’s clear the Austrian commands the respect of the whole team. It seems he treats everyone as an equal which is this day and age is a great quality of any manager.
2021 definitely brought the Haas team closer together and integrated their talented rookie drivers into the team and the car. They’ve laid some solid foundations for 2022 and if they operate with anything like the same effort as the season just gone by then they’ll achieve everything and more for what they are aiming for in the all important 2022 season.
The story was written by Ollie Pattas
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