Briefly seeing Mick Schumacher in the Bahrain paddock during testing, Guenther Steiner joked they didn’t speak because “of the distance between us in the paddock and the toilets”.
Last November Steiner brought Schumacher’s Formula 1 career to a halt when the Haas team boss opted not to re-sign the German for a third season, citing his lack of results as the reason.
Since then the two have headlined an episode in season five of Netflix’s Drive to Survive in which Steiner gave voice to his frustrations with his driver’s performance, or best to say lack thereof.
Speaking to team owner Gene Haas following Schumacher’s Jeddah qualifying crash, one that destroyed the car and meant the driver couldn’t line up on the grid, Steiner said: “It is f*****. Between half a million and a million I would say. F****** hell.
“Gave him a year to learn and what does he do in the second race? He f****** destroys the car just because the other one is faster.”
Another conversation was had following Schumacher’s Monaco Grand Prix crash, another million dollar wreck, with Haas speaking about a “dead man walking area”.
Steiner replied: “If he doesn’t pull his trousers up, he will be soon.”
What followed were months of speculation in which Steiner made it clear he was shopping around before the team boss ultimately signed Nico Hulkenberg and let Schumacher go.
But while the word ‘bullying’ has since been thrown around by some fans in the wake of the Drive to Survive series, Steiner has denied that was the case.
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“There was nothing out of the ordinary,” he told RTL.
“We don’t need to do bullying, because after all he was our driver.
“I can also absolutely understand Mick’s fans. In the heat of the moment you sometimes say something that you might say differently an hour later, but that wasn’t bullying at all.”
The German subsequently signed a reserve driver deal with Mercedes which meant he was in the Bahrain paddock during pre-season testing where he briefly saw his former team boss.
“When I saw him last weekend, I said hello to him,” Steiner jokingly said. “We didn’t speak to each other.
“It’s a good thing because of the distance between us in the paddock and the toilets, we don’t always run into each other.”
This season Steiner has another German on the payroll with Hulkenberg replacing Schumacher as Kevin Magnussen’s team-mate.
“I didn’t know him very well before, but well enough to say, ‘I think he’s honest’,” he said.
“He doesn’t tell me the things I want to hear, but how they are. Because otherwise I can’t help if everything is fine. I think we built that understanding pretty quickly.
“Due to the years in which he has not driven, he is of course also hungry to do something now. As a guy, he’s pretty confident. That’s good for us – that’s why we got him.”