Haas team principal Guenther Steiner suggests the current driver pairing is one he wants to continue with, but expects to see a reaction from Kevin Magnussen to this year’s results.
Magnussen was one of the standout drivers of 2022 when paired with Mick Schumacher, scoring 25 points, including a stunning fifth place in Bahrain on his return to Formula 1. However, this year Nico Hulkenberg has picked up the majority of the points for Haas, with Steiner surprised at how quickly the German got up to speed in his own comeback season.
“What we wanted was (Hulkenberg’s) experience to take the team forward, and I think we got what we wanted,” Steiner told SiriusXM. “Firstly, his results are – in my opinion – better than expected, how quickly he was on a good pace.
“And secondly how well he works with the team. He’s really pushing everybody in a positive way, not only saying ‘this doesn’t work’ and then goes off to Monte Carlo.
“No, he’s engaged, he tries to help, he’s giving good feedback on the car, and it’s also good fun to work with him.”
With Hulkenberg outqualifying Magnussen nine to three so far this season, Steiner admits the Dane isn’t happy with the deficit but says he is “pretty happy where we are with the drivers” as it stands.
“It puts on pressure but I think at the moment, we need to look at the numbers and most of the time in qualifying Kevin was behind him, and not by half a tenth, by more than two or three tenths, which obviously puts Kevin under a bit of pressure. But I think the biggest pressure is coming from himself because when you’re a driver and you get beaten by your teammate that’s never nice to be.
“So I think we need to see how he can get out of this to catch up to Nico again, because he should be able to do it and already having a teammate like Nico should help to get there.”
Steiner said the relative gap is one of the reasons he was so keen to have two experienced drivers in the car this season after having replaced Schumacher with Hulkenberg over the winter.
“Absolutely, it’s one of those things that if you have a known quantity then it’s easier to judge also where we are with the car. If you think about Kevin in the form he was at the beginning of the year, and then having a rookie beside him, you don’t really know where you are at,” he said.
“Kevin just doesn’t like how this car drives, but it doesn’t make it a bad car – I mean it’s not a great car because we have the race issue, but in qualifying it’s not a bad car – he needs to get the best out of it.
“But if you have two drivers and one doesn’t like the car and one is a rookie, it’s very difficult to get out of that hole. But now having Nico we know there’s something in the car, we just need to get it all the time.”