Haas boss Guenther Steiner made the choice to swap out Schumacher for the more seasoned Nico Hulkenberg for 2023.
Guenther Steiner claimed that his decision to fire Mick Schumacher was motivated by his belief that his Haas team needed a driver who could help them grow.
Schumacher’s final race as a Haas driver was revealed by the team prior to the season finale in Abu Dhabi last weekend. Nico Hulkenberg will take his place for the 2023 season, teaming up with Kevin Magnussen as an experienced driver.
Compared to last year, when Haas had two rookie drivers, this lineup is noticeably different. In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Nikita Mazepin lost his seat after only one year of racing under the team. Although Schumacher received a second season, he did not demonstrate his talent frequently enough in 2022 to warrant a third season with the team.
This week, Steiner explained his reasoning behind making a choice that sparked some controversy among fans during an appearance on F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast. And by doing so, he demonstrated how Schumacher’s youth and inexperience ultimately worked against him.
“Mick can become a good driver, or he’s already a good driver,” Steiner admitted. “But he can get better… But how long does it take us?”
“Because he’s growing with us, he cannot make us grow. We said, ‘How can we do that?’
“We looked around and we knew Nico, we had a few discussions in the years before with him and it never materialised that he came to work with us.”
“So obviously there was the respect there. He was on the market, he hasn’t driven now full-time for three years, so we wondered, can he do it?”
“He drove two races with Aston Martin this year, and he did do pretty well,” he added.
“We evaluated what is better for the team and in the end it came out that it is better to get an experienced driver to make the team move up quicker because a Formula 1 team is one of those things you need to go quick, otherwise you lose momentum and you stay behind.”
Steiner said in a previous conversation on the subject that he had deliberately put off making a choice in order to gauge Hulkenberg’s level of interest for the drive.
“I spoke to Hulkenberg for a pretty long time, then maybe not speaking, just seeing how he reacted,” the Haas boss said. “With some people, when you want something, you get high and then you lose interest.”
“It’s a psychology thing but he always kept on pushing, always asking… I left that seat on purpose there to see.”
“But he always came back, ‘What is happening? What is happening?’… Did he want it? Oh yeah, Jesus Christ. He’s chasing me a lot.”
“They played the game, him and his lawyer!”