In the latest of his regular columns for The Race, Haas Formula 1 team principal Guenther Steiner addresses his handling of the controversy around 2021 signing Nikita Mazepin’s conduct and shares his early impressions of Mick Schumacher
Happy New Year everyone!
In this column I have to start by addressing the situation with Nikita Mazepin.
He did something he shouldn’t have done, and we were very outspoken about what we thought about it at the time.
He’s apologised and he knows it was wrong, and now we need to work on it to give him the best opportunity to learn from this, concentrate on his racing and ensure he doesn’t do it anymore.
He knows that. He realises that what was done wasn’t right.
This is not done and dusted, this is an ongoing thing, we are not moving on like nothing ever happened
I’m not the type of guy who kicks in the face someone who’s on their knees – that’s not right.
This is a young man who needs to grow up and for sure we have dealt with this and we will continue to deal with this.
We are not saying that this was OK and letting him get away with it. We are educating him and will keep on educating him for his future.
There will be consequences if this or something similar happens again. We have put things in place that will help him to get better and make sure this doesn’t happen again; not to make the same mistake again, because this was a clear mistake.
And he took responsibility, which for me was very important. I always say if you know what you did wrong you can do better. If you are in denial, then it doesn’t work.
People have an opinion, that’s fine, also internally people didn’t like what happened, and this is why we continue to take this seriously
But the full details of what we did, and what we are doing – I don’t want to disclose. This is not done and dusted, this is an ongoing thing, we are not moving on like nothing ever happened.
I’m aware of the response on social media – and social media can be your friend and it can also be your enemy.
People have an opinion, that’s fine, also internally people didn’t like what happened, and this is why we continue to take this seriously.
This is a distraction that we don’t want, but sometimes these things happen. Of course, I would have rather this had not happened, but we got in this position and now we have to work on it, it’s part of our job.
On a more positive note, it was fantastic to have a Schumacher back involved in Formula 1, with Mick joining us for the Abu Dhabi test.
He’s very professional – you can see he grew up in a family that knows what racing is all about.
He’s a very pleasant guy, very well prepared technically. The guys like him and his feedback and he has no problem to admit the things where he needs to get better.
That is what we need to do – make him go better – because everything is new; he’s been put in a difficult position because his team-mate is another rookie, but he knew that from the get-go.
But otherwise, it was very good to have him around and I look forward to having these new challenges in front of me.
Looking back to 2020, if I had to rate our performance for last season, competition-wise it would be as low as you can get – because we are not here to race at the back.
But on the other hand, we kept in business alive in a very difficult economic environment and I would rate that as pretty good, but on a sporting and competition level, we weren’t where we should be.
Now the focus is 2021. We are looking into the impact of the new lockdown regulations in the UK, because when the car runs for the first time, that’s where it will be.
But we will need people from Italy over to get the car running, so we need to understand what is happening with that. It’s six weeks away, but still we need to be thinking about that.
While it looks likely that Australia will be postponed, I think the Bahrain race will happen.
They did a fantastic job at the end of last year and when we got there we felt very safe. They have very good control systems in place for the testing and everything is very well organised.
What comes after, I have no idea.
At the moment it’s very difficult for me to understand what’s happening in China, so I think there will be a difficult beginning of the season.
But FOM showed last year how they can deal with an alternative calendar very quickly.
Maybe I’m being pessimistic, but I think we’ll have to deal with that for the first six months of the year.
After that I hope we can see the influence of the vaccine and things should be more solid and more predictable.
But for the first six months I think it will be a little bit like last year was.