Haas F1 team principal Guenther Steiner has revealed the difficulties of running two rookie drivers at his team in the 2021 season.
Following the departure of Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean at the end of last year, Steiner signed Formula 2 graduates Mick Schumacher – who has recently been made Ferrari reserve driver – and Nikita Mazepin, in what turned out to be a dire season for the American outfit.
Schumacher and Mazepin won two races each in the 2020 F2 season en route to championship success and fifth, respectively, but Haas’ best finish of the 2021 season was 12th for Schumacher at the eventful Hungarian Grand Prix.
Asked about the difficulties of nurturing two young rookies in the team, Steiner admitted it was a struggle.
“How much time have you got?” he jovially said.
“I think there’s a lot you have to learn. The simplest way to explain it is it’s like having children. I’m not saying that they are children, but everything is new to them. I have to learn how to work with them.”
In Steiner’s experience, it helps when a young driver is essentially an understudy to a more experienced one, but having two very young racers makes things more difficult
“Normally, if you’ve got a young guy and a seasoned one, it goes automatically. But sometimes, I had to see how we managed everything best by having two guys, who are very new to Formula 1. It was an experience.
“I think we made a lot of progress during the year with both of them, so that’s a good thing – but it was an experience.”
Despite the difficulties, Steiner is pleased with the development of both the car and the drivers.
“All in all, I think everybody can see that we made progress. Before the summer break, we had issues. That seems to be sorted out quite a bit. It always can flare up again, but it’s a flare and not a constant thing.
“It was an experience for me; it wasn’t an easy one.”
Haas were last in the constructors’ standings in 2021, a far cry from their highest fifth-placed finish in 2018.