Ralf Schumacher reignites Guenther Steiner feud with blunt Canada GP criticism

Michelle Foster
Guenther Steiner on the Haas pit wall. Monaco May 2023

Team boss Guenther Steiner on the Haas pit wall.

Ralf Schumacher has reignited his feud with Guenther Steiner as he called for “change and restructure” at Haas after Nico Hulkenberg failed to score in Canada despite his P5 grid position.

Haas’ Canadian Grand Prix, or at least that of its German driver, went from elation in Saturday’s qualifying when he was second quickest to pragmatism hours later when he was demoted to fifth for breaching the red flag regulations.

Found guilty of driving too quickly when Q3 was red flagged for Oscar Piastri’s crashed McLaren, Hulkenberg accepted: “It’s a shame not to be able to start from the front row, but we have to live with the consequences.”

But perhaps in what should’ve been seen as a warning for what was to come on Sunday, he added that “looking at our race, it doesn’t actually change much, the approach remains the same and it won’t affect the outcome either.”

It didn’t as the 35-year-old plummeted from P5 on the grid to 15th at the chequered flag. “Unfortunately, that was a one-way street in the wrong direction,” he said. “In a way, that was of course expected, but you always hope that things will go better than last time.”

But as they didn’t, Haas failing to score for the third race in succession, Schumacher says it’s time for change.

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“Nico Hulkenberg experienced a modest race after a strong qualifying session,” the former F1 driver said in his post-race column for Sky Deutschland.

“This is very frustrating for him. Both he and Kevin Magnussen have the potential to finish in the points, but the Haas team has too big a deficit.

“They’ve gotten to a point where they have to think about what needs to change and restructure.

“Haas is currently the absolute bottom of the field and that cannot be a situation in the long run.”

The six-time grand prix winner’s comments come on the back of Steiner revealing one thing he’s unlikely to change between now and next season is his driver line-up with the Italian happy with Hulkenberg and Magnussen.

Schumacher, though, wonders if it’s worth it for Hulkenberg.

“Team boss Guenther Steiner said at the weekend that he was satisfied with the driver pairing. In doing so, he promised Hulkenberg another year as a regular driver,” he said.

“But the question is: what can Haas offer him?

“If I were him, I would first ask what steps are being taken to improve the situation. Because one thing is clear, if everything stays the way it is – also in terms of personnel – then not much will change.”

As for the possibility of the German replacing Sergio Perez at Red Bull with Hulkenberg friends with Max Verstappen, Schumacher said: “I don’t think that’s up for debate at the moment. The question is what Red Bull wants.

“They still have [Yuki] Tsunoda, which has been prepared for a long time and he too has gone his own way and has the experience. Red Bull tends to fall back on their own squad.”

But, he reckons Hulkenberg and Verstappen would “definitely work in terms of performance. We know that the two are very good friends.”