Steiner says Bahrain GP success would’ve been ‘very difficult’ with Mazepin at Haas

Kevin Magnussen ended the 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix fifth having been recalled by the Haas team after the sacking of Nikita Mazepin.

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner has heaped praise on Kevin Magnussen after the Dane’s exceptional fifth-placed finish at the season-opening 2022 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Magnussen left Formula 1 at the end of 2020 to head to IMSA, but was recalled after the sacking of Nikita Mazepin due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Financial sanctions and a prohibition of Russian and Belarusian branding in global motorsport made it almost implausible for former name partner Uralkali to sustain their relationship with the team, and the Russia-based potash producer were dropped ahead of the 2022 season.

READ: Magnussen: ‘The biggest concern is reliability’

Dmitry Mazepin, Nikita’s father, is an oligarch who part owns the company, and paid for his son’s seat, meaning that the 23-year-old was dismissed by the Banbury-based squad.

The Dane was therefore brought back, and his magnificent performance in his first race since his departure, compared to Mazepin’s generally lacklustre form in 2021, leads Steiner to suggest that the result might not have been achievable had the Russian remained a fixture in the team.

“Who knows?” he pondered, quoted by GPFans.

“For sure, bringing Kevin back showed what was possible. I think it would have been very difficult if Nikita and Mick [Schumacher] had been in the team.”

Haas spent much of 2021 ploughing resources into this year to be competitive under the all-new technical regulations, and it is a decision that appears to have worked going on Magnussen’s exemplary pace in Bahrain.

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Despite scoring more points in one race than they had in the previous 39, the Italian is not about to let his imagination run wild as to what his team can achieve.

“It’s about what we can do, and we will do our best. Whatever comes out of it, we’ll do,” he added.

“I’m not on the wave of expectation. That’s for other people, and I think before the first race they expected us to be last.

READ: Magnussen tips ‘super hungry’ Schumacher to succeed in Formula 1

“Yeah, there’s a lot of interest because of the result. Nobody expected what we did, but there’s no madness. We didn’t win a race… yet!” he joked.

Haas sit third in the Constructors’ Championship after round one by virtue of a double late retirement for the Red Bull pair of Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.