Guenther Steiner gave his take on F1 Dutch GP between Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin following on another incident on Saturday, after a season of friction between the two rookies.
After their qualifying miss-communication in F1 Dutch GP, Schumacher and Mazepin nearly came together on the opening two laps of the grand prix, where the Russian was defending his position at Turn 1 from the German after clearing him early on. There was a slight movement from the Russian, but wasn’t deemed to be investigated.
You’d think that the team with no points and comfortably weakest car on the grid wouldn’t be having inter team squabbles and it to be the front teams to deal with these kinds of issues. But Haas have somehow found themselves with arguably the biggest teammate rivalry on the grid between their rookie pairing.
It rarely hinders results as they are hard to come by in a car like theirs’s but it does create an unhealthy atmosphere within the team and is something Steiner is keen to nip in the bud before 2022. After Mazepin’s tirade on Saturday, it was Schumacher with the frustrations on Sunday, which was clear in the TV interviews he gave.
“It’s just a pity when such things are played out on the track and dangerous things happen where I’m not completely behind it,” said Schumacher after the race regarding his teammates driving style. Steiner wasn’t in full agreement with the German rookie as he noted about it taking two to tangle in such scenarios.
“You can always say it’s dangerous, you can avoid danger,” said Steiner to media including FormulaRapida.net. “I don’t think it was a nasty move [from Mazepin] to be honest. I looked at the scenario and it takes always two to tango.” A rather neutral approach from Steiner, who is keen not to blame one driver or take sides.
“There is not one person to be blamed on this, we need to work on it, to be constructive, we had a meeting after our engineering debrief about it,” said Steiner. “We haven’t come to a conclusion.” Haas will no doubt be kicked into gear to sort this out before the Italian GP and Zandvoort is a wake-up call that action needs to be taken quickly before it happens again or worse still, happens severely.
Only a week to go before the next race, so whilst all the important preparation is happening, the team have the added burden of putting out fire between their two drivers, something that should not be happening in a team like Haas in their current predicament. “The plan is to meet before Monza and to see what we need to do to avoid this in future, because it doesn’t help anybody,” revealed Steiner. “I tried to explain that one. And we will work on it. And will work on it until we get it sorted.”
The pressure is on Steiner to nip this in the bud before it gets worse. Clearly, Schumacher wasn’t in much mood. “It doesn’t justify the fact that he pushes me in the wall, and basically pushes me to go into the pit lane,” he said to TV media. “Again I think that’s not the right way, again we’ll probably just have to have a talk with the team about this.”
As Steiner alluded to, there will be meetings before Monza, but Schumacher was visibly upset after the race, and rightly so you could argue. “The experience of the track has been okay,” he said. “Obviously, again, there was a little coming together with my team-mate for some reason which I don’t understand. I think it just seems like that is the way it is.
“It’s just a pity. In the end, he ruined the race for me because then my front wing was broken and we had to come in. Then with all the blue flags, you don’t have a race anymore. It seems like he has got this thing in his head where he wants to, at any cost, be in front of me. That’s okay. I have nothing against it.
“But if we go to the point where we defend very aggressively against a team-mate where we have nothing to gain is maybe not the right approach,” summed up Schumacher. On his teammate side, the Russian was more subdued on Sunday. “I’m upset as well,” he said. “My job’s to drive and I feel like I’m not driving enough the last few race weekends. Luckily I don’t feel at fault for it which is one thing to keep in your mind but I was having a good race, I had a very good opening lap.”
Mazepin retired on Lap 41 with a hydraulics failure, but up until then was having a fairly positive race and could have been on for a decent result. But ultimately, he clashed with his teammate twice in two days and the misery of this was compounded by the unlucky DNF. Schumacher certainly doesn’t feel as though anything will change if he spoke to the Russian, which is the last thing team principal Steiner would like to hear.
The two drivers need to have their heads banged together to get their act in shape before it effects the team any further and if they can’t change, they will have to apply rules. “That is exactly the discussion we just had with both of them and the race engineers who are involved with them so they know what’s going on with them,” he said. “It’s not easy to bang their heads together, but you have to come to some conclusions. Otherwise, we need to put rules in place.”
If there’s one silver lining for Haas, though, its’ that you could argue going through this now is better than going through this next year when more is at stake, almost like a teething season for the two rookies whose futures are committed at Haas. But at the same time, it’s never what you want to be dealing with as a team principal.
“No, it’s never a good time to go through this but I’ve been there before, we will sort it and I think the timing, I’d rather have it now than next year, we are in a position where at least you’ve got a little bit of time to sort it, we’ve got 9 races to go we need to fix this. This is now a big task to do, and we will work hard at it,” summed up Steiner.
Of course, Steiner has been here before in previous years. Former drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean had their fair share of coming together’s during their time as teammates at the American outfit. That was fixed, so there’s no reason why this can’t be fixed too. It’s not an inter team battle you would have expected to kick-off at the start of the season, but it has.
Whilst its’s been quietly bubbling away at surface level all season, it boiled over at the Dutch GP. One unnecessary incident too far. And maybe one incident away from harsher measures and consequences. Steiner has his hands full the get this fixed before the all important 2022 season where the team aim to be scoring points again. They cannot afford clashes like this next year.
The story was written by Ollie Pattas
Here’s the video of the Dutch GP incident: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/video.2021-dutch-grand-prix-haas-team-mates-schumacher-and-mazepin-make-contact.1710084489407703207.html
Here’s what was said after Dutch GP qualifying