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Haas team principal Guenther Steiner adamant that Ferrari will not be making final decision on Ferrari Academy product Schumacher’s future at Haas.
Haas F1 Team is in no hurry to determine the identity of Kevin Magnussen’s 2023 Formula 1 teammate. Magnussen is on a multi-year deal at Haas, but incumbent Mick Schumacher’s contract runs out at the end of the season.
Some reports emerged this week that the 23-year-old Schumacher is even at risk of losing his long-standing Ferrari affiliation at the end of 2022.
If that’s true, nobody at Haas is saying.
Haas, seventh in this year’s standings, has a technical association with Ferrari. However, Haas team principal Guenther Steiner has been adamant that the Italian marque will not have the final say in Haas’ driver lineup.
Haas owner Gene Haas is set to be in attendance at this weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix, with meetings prospective drivers on the agenda, but Steiner cautioned against expecting a swift resolution.
“It’s a start, not the end,” Steiner said this week at Zandvoort, site of this weekend’s F1 Dutch Grand Prix. “it’s not that we didn’t speak together about drivers or what to do but we decided to wait a bit. We are not in a hurry. We monitor the situation with Mick and see what is happening. We are not in a hurry—why do we need to decide now anyway? If we decide now and make the wrong decision and we regret it why would we force ourselves to decide?”
Haas is wary that hesitating could mean drivers are taken off the market, but Steiner affirmed that “we take that risk, we consciously take the risk. Maybe the opportunity is bigger than the risk.”
Steiner added that “everything is open” and dismissed the idea that he had a preferred choice.
“If you have a number one target then everything is not open anymore and I wouldn’t say the truth,” he said. “I’ve got my own thoughts, but I still need to make sure who is best for the team, it’s not who I want as a person. It’s who is best for the team for the future, that comes out of the dialogue (with Gene): what do we want to do, a riskier version, safer version, whatever, that will be the deciding factor—not who is the favorite or who I like most.”
On the qualities he is looking for from a driver, Steiner replied that, “I think what we are looking is to bring the team forward,” and intimated that the length of a contract for the 2023 driver would not be the determining factor.
Schumacher was coy about his own future when asked on Thursday, outlining that he does not discuss contracts, while asserting his focus was on the upcoming race weekends.
“What is being discussed behind the scenes between us is something I’d rather keep between us,” said Schumacher.
Alpine continues to have an open seat as the F1 paddock awaits the verdict of the Contract Recognition Board, which met on Monday to discuss Oscar Piastri’s contract. An outcome was expected on Thursday but at the time of writing had not yet been delivered.
Pierre Gasly, who holds a 2023 AlphaTauri deal, continues to be linked to Alpine but was evasive about the situation.
“I don’t feel like commenting anything for the moment,” he said. “I’m with AlphaTauri and giving my best for AlphaTauri. They gave me first seat in Formula 1, they gave me my first victory, I don’t feel like commenting anything.”
Alpine incumbent Esteban Ocon, who holds a deal through 2024, was asked about his teammate preference and threw his support behind good friend Schumacher, alongside whom he was sat during the Thursday press conference.
“People know that my choice if I had anything to say would be Mick, if he doesn’t have anything lined up for next year,” said Ocon. “He’s a good friend of mine, first of all. If I can help on that, that’s no problem. I think he has shown talent in the junior categories as well, he’s been very fast, sometimes in F1 it’s not easy to perform with a car that’s a bit on the back foot.
“He’s a great guy and he could perform very well if he joined a competitive car and at the moment the Alpine is competitive, so that’s just my words—I don’t have a decision (in this) but the team knows this would be my preference.”