Mazepin/Schumacher cannot ‘learn’ through team orders

Date published: September 26 2021 - Jamie Woodhouse

Haas driver Nikita Mazepin speaks with Mick Schumacher standing behind him. Britain July 2021

Haas principal Guenther Steiner does not believe team orders is the way to settle the conflict between Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher.

The team’s rookie pairing have been left fighting at the back in an underdeveloped VF21, but this season they have literally been fighting verbally with several differences of opinion arising.

It was at the Dutch Grand Prix where tensions began to flare, with Mazepin furious at Schumacher for overtaking him as they prepared for a final Q1 flying lap. Schumacher then took issue with Mazepin’s robust defence in the race.

There was then a further collision at Monza, leading to questions over the possible use of team orders at Haas.

But Steiner does not see this as the way forward, arguing that team orders would not allow his drivers to learn, while Haas themselves also would not be able to grow.

He is also keen to allow the drivers to sort the issues themselves, having seen them talking to find solutions.

Nikita Mazepin races Mick Schumacher. Italy September 2021

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“They have to learn to fight, but they have to do that without doing damage, without damaging themselves or the team,” Steiner told reporters at the Russian Grand Prix.

“Right now it’s very difficult because we’re in that position where there’s nothing to fight for except from [fighting] each other. They’re learning. It doesn’t seem right to me giving [team] orders, saying who’s ahead in qualifying stays ahead, because they don’t learn and the team doesn’t grow. Here we hope we will have few problems.

“But I saw they are talking with each other about how to avoid these problems they have on track during the race but also during the qualifying. They are talking and I’m sure at some point they’ll reach a point where they’ll say it’s better not do that because it’s not good for them as well.

“They are growing, they have to learn that, sometimes doing a step backwards means doing two steps forward.”

 

Both drivers will remain with Haas for 2022 as Formula 1 enters a new era, one which Haas have committed to fully in the hope of progressing up the grid.

And part of this vision for the future was keeping Schumacher and Mazepin in place after this difficult rookie campaign.

“It was a confirmation, it was planned the drivers would have been confirmed anyway, I said for a while that it was just a matter of time. But we confirmed them because we made the plan last year,” Steiner explained.

“We invested in the future, we invested in the car, we didn’t make any upgrades this year because we know this year’s car is what it is and we invested in 2022, and the same thing is for the drivers.

“We said we would take two youngsters and we would make them grow up. That’s what we did. We’re at a point where we said it’s all right, and we confirmed them at least for another year.”