Steiner didn’t ‘speak with anybody’ but Magnussen

Michelle Foster
Kevin Magnussen looking inside the Haas VF-22 in testing. Bahrain March 2022

New signing Kevin Magnussen looking inside the Haas VF-22 in testing. Bahrain March 2022

Once Kevin Magnussen’s name was mentioned, Guenther Steiner said he knew he had the driver he wanted for this season and “didn’t speak with anybody else”.

Parting ways with Nikita Mazepin last week, Haas were in need of a new race driver, and quickly.

While Antonio Giovinazzi was believed to be the frontrunner, it came as a surprise on Wednesday morning when Magnussen’s name was thrown into the mix.

Later that same day Haas confirmed that they had signed their former driver, the Dane returning to the grid after a year out.

“I never thought it goes sideways,” Steiner said of the negotiations. “I always worked on it actively. I didn’t speak with anybody else, with any other driver, I was just confident that it will happen.

“Obviously then there were a few difficulties. But when you do any deal at this level you know that it will be difficult, especially if we are involved, everything is more difficult!

“But then you just keep on working on it and solve the difficulties and find solutions.

“I mean, once we decided, I wouldn’t say it went smooth, but there were a few hurdles in the way. But we just got them out of the way, the hurdles.”

Recalling his initial conversation with team owner Gene Haas, he said the American was as keen on Magnussen returning as he was.

“When what happened, happened, we parted company with Nikita,” he explained as per F1i.com, “and I was discussing with Gene who to put in the car, who’s available. The same old story, ups and downs, and lefts and rights.

“Kevin’s name came up, and Gene said, ‘Do you think Kevin would come back?’ And I said ‘I have no idea, I don’t know, but I can call him up.’ And I called him up, and he said, ‘Yeah, I’m interested.’

“I think you know a person pretty well after four years you work with him, and we didn’t even have to discuss it.

“We said, ‘We’re going to do this,’ it was both ways ‘Yes, we are going to do this.’ And that was that. It was pretty simplistic.

“There was no negotiation or anything. It’s like I know what he wants, I know what we want, and it’s the same thing. We are here to get better again, and we need him to help us to do that, like he did last time.”

Haas’ decision to sign Magnussen did raise a few eyebrows as the team has Pietro Fittipaldi on the books as their reserve driver.

And given that Steiner said two weeks ago that the Brazilian would be his first call, it was a surprise when he was not.

The team boss explained that Haas couldn’t risk putting a rookie in the car when they could sign a driver of Magnussen’s experience, and one who already knows the team.

 

“You always look what worked, and the position we found ourselves in, it was like, how we can bring the team forward the quickest way with the least amount of risk?” he said.

“And that was Kevin, because we know him, he worked with us.

“Taking another rookie, we would face again the same problem, or the same issue, we wouldn’t know where we are, because we have no reference.

“Maybe in the back of your head you think, let’s go the safe route, and that’s what we did.

“But still, it’s not a mega safe. It’s just like do something we know which works, and if you have got the opportunity to change that. And that’s what we did.”

 

Magnussen back at Haas

Haas made the decision to turn back to their former driver in very quick fashion.