Guenther Steiner gives explanation for his ‘done with rookie drivers’ comment

Jon Wilde
Guenther Steiner shares a joke with Mick Schumacher. Silverstone July 2022.

Guenther Steiner shares a joke with Mick Schumacher on the pit wall. Silverstone July 2022.

Guenther Steiner has explained his “done with rookies” comment – saying he does not think there are enough chances for young drivers to show they are F1 ready.

The Haas team principal was true to his word after he had indicated during F1’s Asian swing in early October that if Mick Schumacher was to be replaced for 2023, it would not be with another young driver.

Steiner had taken the chance in 2021 to bring in two rookies – Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin – for a season in which Haas had low expectations with all their development focus placed on the following campaign, and the team paid a price for the duo’s inexperience during a year when they failed to score any points.

For 2023, Haas are restoring Nico Hulkenberg to the F1 ranks in his first full-time race seat since 2019, alongside Kevin Magnussen – two racers with a combined age of 65 and 322 grand prix starts between them.

That is at least partly due to Steiner thinking rookies have too few opportunities to prove themselves in F1, with testing much more limited compared to the past.

“There is nothing before you jump straight from F2 to F1 competition because there is no testing,” Steiner told media including PlanetF1.

“As you can see, we reverted back to get the experience of a driver who wasn’t in a car for three years, or not full time.

“The young drivers, you cannot really evaluate or you take big risks, like McLaren take on [Oscar] Piastri, but in the end nobody knows how good he will be in an F1 car. He was very good in F3 and F2 but it’s still a big step to F1.

“It’s one of those things, how much risk you want to take to get a rookie in the car.”

It was put to Steiner that teams had taken chances on George Russell, Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris a few years ago and been rewarded for those decisions.

“I think we all know how good George, Leclerc or Norris are, but if you take a rookie today who has not been in an F1 car you don’t know,” added the 57-year-old Italian.

“So you always take a risk with a rookie. Obviously if I would know a rookie out there is as good, I would take a rookie any day. But I don’t know – they all took a risk and they all worked out.”

Read more: How ‘rock star’ Guenther Steiner crashed Haas website for four hours