Guenther Steiner defends major Haas decision

Guenther Steiner has made the decision to stick with the current line-up of Haas drivers over switching up the team.

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner has confirmed the renewal of Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen’s contracts for the 2024 season, citing his preference for experienced drivers over the uncertainties of rookie talents. 

The decision was deemed “straightforward,” with Steiner prioritising stability and familiarity within the team.

Addressing the choice to retain Hulkenberg and Magnussen, Steiner emphasised his early conviction in their capabilities, stating, “It was pretty straightforward since a few months ago when I started to say, ‘I think we are pretty good.’ 

“First of all, Nico, at the beginning of the year, obviously we didn’t do a two-year contract because we didn’t know how he would come back. 

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“But he came back very strong.”

Despite Magnussen’s struggles with qualifying pace compared to Hulkenberg, Steiner highlighted the Danish driver’s challenges with the car’s inconsistency. 

Steiner indicated that the pair’s experience and understanding of the team and its dynamics played a crucial role in the decision.

Steiner clarified that his decision-making process didn’t involve discussions with other potential drivers, affirming, “I think we have got the best driver pairing we can get at the moment, with our financials and the effectiveness of our car. 

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“So, I never actually spoke to anybody else.”

The team’s move to retain Hulkenberg, who replaced Mick Schumacher for the 2023 season, reflects a strategic choice, as the young German’s high-impact crashes in the previous season led to budget constraints that influenced the team’s performance upgrades. 

Steiner’s decision to focus on familiar names like Hulkenberg and Magnussen signifies a risk-averse approach in the face of the challenges posed by rookie drivers.

Steiner justified his choice by highlighting the relative stability and reduction of risk associated with retaining seasoned drivers. 

He explained, “If you look around the options, there is not a lot without risk. 

“I don’t want to take any risk in the moment because I don’t think that’s appropriate. 

“You can take a risk if the risk is worthwhile to take.

“And, in this moment, we want stability.” 

While acknowledging the potential of young talents like McLaren’s Oscar Piastri, Steiner recognised that the path to integrating rookie drivers is fraught with uncertainties.

As Haas F1 looks ahead to the 2024 season, Steiner’s focus on incremental progress and stability remains clear. 

He affirmed, “A year ago the drivers were a concern. 

“This year the drivers are not a concern. 

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“Next year they will not be a concern. 

“Tick the box and move on to the next thing. 

“You have to improve.”