Guenther Steiner has downplayed suggestions the German media and their constant criticism of him played a role in Mick Schumacher’s Haas exit.
After two years racing for the American team, twice scoring points in his 43 grand prix starts, Haas informed Schumacher prior to the Abu Dhabi finale that they would not be renewing his contract.
The 23-year-old admitted he was “very disappointed” by the decision, but vowed that it would not mark the end of his Formula 1 story.
While on paper it can be said Schumacher’s three big crashes this season alone counterbalanced by just two top-ten results led to his axing, Sky Sports’ Martin Brundle believes there may be more behind it.
“I think the team were fed up of Mick’s entourage and all the pressures that came with that,” Brundle mused to Sky Sports.
That entourage included a host of German pundits, led by his uncle Ralf Schumacher, who week on week criticised Steiner for his management of their driver.
Steiner, though, denied suggestions that the German media got to him, saying they’re entitled to their opinions.
“No,” he told the media including PlanetF1. “I’m completely, whatever media not just the German ones – I don’t want to single them out because then they get upset again you know – we don’t single out anybody here, you should know that.
“The media has got their opinion, they can be free to have their opinion, and we need need to do a job here for Haas F1, and that is what we do.”
The Italian was later asked in a separate interview if he could ‘hand to heart’ say the criticism he received from Sky Deutschland, which counts Ralf among its pundits, had not affected him.
“Not at all, I’m over it,” he told F1-Insider. “I respect Mick too much – even without the Schumacher name – to be swayed by what people say about me because they feel they have to defend Mick.
“I need to see Mick the human and Mick the driver, not what people are saying about him.”
The pressure of the Schumacher name
He did, however, concede that the Schumacher name in Haas’ ranks – and potentially being responsible for its exit from Formula 1 – weighed heavily on him.
But at the end of the day he had to do what he felt was best for Haas, irrespective of his driver’s surname.
“If I said I didn’t feel any pressure, that would be a complete lie,” he said. “As Mick felt it, so do we.
“First and foremost, of course, it’s about our team. That belongs to Mr. Haas and I have to work for him, so I can’t work for everyone else.
“And for me, Mick is just Mick. I respect the Schumacher name, but you can’t score points with me.”
The 57-year-old added that having the Schumacher name, both for the driver and the team, brought with it added pressure.
“It definitely got a lot of media attention,” he said. “I don’t know if it did anything financially. It certainly didn’t do any harm, but it didn’t happen that we got rich from it.
“On the contrary: it is a blessing and a curse. It took a lot of energy and sometimes also brought a lot of pressure. Just like it’s a blessing and a curse for Mick.”