Steiner empathises with young drivers


Despite opting to drop Mick Schumacher, Haas boss Guenther Steiner admits that young drivers have a difficult task when entering the sport.

In almost every series he has contested, Schumacher has got off to a slow, unconvincing start. But given time to find his feet he has gone on to achieve success, winning both the F3 and F2 championships at the second attempt - curiously having finished a lowly 12th in his first season in both series.

His sophomore season in F1 however has witnessed no such progress, and though he finally got on the scoreboard this year and gave a number of impressive performances, there were far too many costly - in every sense - incidents.

Consequently, the German has been dropped by Haas in favour of veteran Nico Hulkenberg, while Ferrari is also looking set to drop the youngster.

Despite having essentially decided that 'enough was enough', Steiner empathises with Schumacher, feeling that youngsters entering F1 are very much dropped in at the deep end.

"In racing, two years is pretty good time," says the Italian, "but there is nothing before. He jumped straight from F2 to F1, the competition, because there is no testing.

"As you can see, we reverted back to get the experience of a driver which was in a car for three years, or not full-time, call it like this in a car," he says of Hulkenberg.

"The young drivers, cannot really evaluate or you take big risks," he continues. "McLaren takes on Piastri, but in the end nobody knows how good he will be in an F1 car. He was very good in F3 and F2 but that doesn't mean anything. It's still a big step to F1.

"So obviously, I think it is a little bit of a, I wouldn't say a problem is one of these things, you know how much risk you want to take to get in the car."

It is no doubt with this in mind that McLaren has been giving some of its young drivers, including Piastri, time in an F1 car ahead of their debuts, albeit in older machinery. Ironically, anticipating his move up to F1 at some point, Alpine had also given the Australian plenty of running in an old car.

In fairness however, Steiner doesn't place all the blame on Schumacher's young shoulders, admitting that the team could have done more.

"I think we did a good job in that one," he says. "I always said, we treat every driver fair and we do the best we can. Sometimes it wasn't good enough from the team. I'm fully standing behind that, you know, that it was not him not performing. Sometimes we had issues, when we didn't, we are not good enough. We need to fix that one.

"But I think we always gave him the best we could and were always fair," he insists. "Where equality with the drivers last (2021) year (was complained about), this year, there was always no issue with that one."

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Published: 09/12/2022
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