Guenther Steiner questions McLaren’s decision to sign Oscar Piastri

Haas will not have an inexperienced driver on the grid in 2023, having replaced Mick Schumacher with the vastly experienced Nico Hulkenberg.

With the financial effects of the COVID pandemic having a major effect on Formula 1 teams going into the 2021 season, Haas decided to focus their attention on planning for the major regulation changes in 2022.

The American team barely developed their car in favour of using resources on planning for the following season and appointed two rookie drivers to save money on wages and build for the future.

Nikita Mazepin lasted a single season before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine combined with the Russian’s poor performances forced the team to replace him with Kevin Magnussen, while Mick Schumacher fared much better.

The German kept his seat for 2022 and reached the highs of a P6 finish at the Red Bull Ring, showing his obvious potential to his employers.

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Unfortunately for Schumacher, his inexperience and tendency to crash the car led the team to make the decision to replace him with the experienced Nico Hulkenberg in 2023, a decision which team principal Guenther Steiner has said is not necessarily the 23-year-old’s fault.

“In racing, two years is a pretty good time, but there’s nothing before,” began Steiner.

“He jumped straight from F2 to F1 in competition, because there is no testing. We reverted back to get an experienced driver that wasn’t in a car for three years, not full-time, because the young driver, you cannot really evaluate or you take big risks.”

The Italian has now questioned McLaren’s decision to do the opposite to Haas ahead of next season, as the team have replaced 33-year-old Daniel Ricciardo with rookie Oscar Piastri following the veteran’s poor performances.

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“I mean 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 it’s still a big step to F1,” explained Steiner.

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“Obviously I think it is a little bit, I wouldn’t say a problem, but it’s one of those things, how much risk do you want to take to get a rookie in the car.”

McLaren will be hoping that Piastri can hit the ground running alongside Lando Norris next season, with both drivers being tipped to be stars of the future of Formula 1.

Alpine’s annoyance at the 21-year-old’s decision to choose McLaren over them for next season could be seen as an indicator of how highly the Australian is rated by those in the sport, as Piastri was previously tipped to be the future of Alpine after coming through their driver academy.