Steiner discusses about Ferrari juniors for Haas, talks with Mazepin, Hulkenberg
The Italian has kept it all open as he has been saying for some time now.
Guenther Steiner had more discussions on Haas F1 line-up for 2021 and beyond as he added about the Ferrari juniors, Nikita Mazepin, Nico Hulkenberg and more.
Steiner was part of the Sport1's AvD Motorsport Magazine show on Sunday evening, where he opened up on the driver line-up of Haas for not just the 2021 F1 season but also beyond, especially with the new regulations kicking in from 2022.
It is a long list of drivers to choose from, which involves the three Ferrari juniors, their current drivers, Mazepin, Hulkenberg and even Sergio Perez - at least these are the names heavily linked to them. For months, Steiner has been pestered about the same topic.
There is no clear answer still as a lot of things has to fall in place to finalise the two names. In the latest interview, Steiner hinted on his preference from the Ferrari lot, which obviously is Mick Schumacher but he left it on the Italian manufacturer.
Schumacher has been linked heavily with Alfa Romeo Racing alongside Kimi Raikkonen but it is yet to be firm. He is leading the F2 championship and can very well win it beating fellow Ferrari junior Callum Ilott - both of whom await their FP1 chance after washout.
"F2 is very strong this year in terms of drivers, there are many drivers on the market, not just the three Ferrari juniors," said Steiner. "But of course we work closely with Ferrari and if we take some from F2, it will most likely be Ferrari juniors, because they are also strong. They are first and second in the championship and Shwartzman is in the Top 5.
"They are an option for us," Steiner added, and when pressed on if they would like to have Schumacher, he stated, "I would certainly not be against it. Mick is leading the championship. Not just with a small lead but quite a pretty one too. But it is up to Ferrari to decide. We can only say who we want.
"But I don't know the contracts that Ferrari has with their juniors etc. We have not yet negotiated with Ferrari. We are talking about what is possible and what is not. But mainly with Ferrari and not with Mick. But Ferrari also has to look who is the best. They also had a test at Fiorano two weeks ago. Ferrari evaluates this and not us.
"We talk with Ferrari what is possible but it is too early for negotiations. We are not doing that at the moment," summed up Steiner. When pressed beyond the Ferrari juniors, the topic of Mazepin rose up as the Hitech GP sponsors are looking to field the Russian driver in F1 in 2021 after he has had a strong second season in F2.
Some reports linked a Haas sale to Mazepin but Steiner put them down strongly. Dimitry Mazepin met the Haas team principal in Russia but it now looks more like for a place for Nikita rather than outright buyout. "We are still a young team, the corona pandemic has thrown us back a year or two," said the Italian.
"Some people wish we'd want to sell in order to get us for a small price. But Gene Haas doesn't need to sell. I don't think we have the smallest budget, there are teams with a similar budget. We work very efficiently with another model in which we are very much based on Ferrari. I don't think Mr Mazepin said he wanted to buy the team.
"I've known him for a few years because he has his own racing teams in F2 and F3. I talk to him again and again, he is very competent and nice. Mr. Mazepin Sr wants his son to drive in F1 and the son wants that too, even more than his father, naturally. Mazepin has its own large company, Uralkali fertilizer, which sponsors the F2 team.
"I have to figure out where we want to go and when we know that we will make a decision. I speak to Mr. Mazepin just like I speak to Hulkenberg," Steiner added, before elaborating more on the German's chances and also the chances of the current drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean - as to whether they can stay or not.
"We look at everything and then we talk," said Steiner. "As a team, we have to know what we want before we approach people. We know what Nico can do, he's very respected in F1. But we don't negotiate with people if we don't know where we're going. I've had very little contact with Nico or the management over the past few weeks.
"But we talk to each other. Last year was a difficult year for us and our current drivers, we had new parts on the car and then they go in the box. That wasn’t the point. Drivers have to be selfish and think of themselves, but that shouldn't be at the team's expense. I taught them that after Silverstone, otherwise neither of them would have had a job.
"Hopefully we'll announce what we're doing soon. Everyone wants to know, the team also wants to know. What is important to me, that the drivers we will have in 2021 will also be in the car in 2022. Because everything will be new there, so it would be important to know the drivers," summed up Steiner.
[Image courtesy: Haas F1 Team] [Note: The story was written on FormulaRapida.net]