Gunter Steiner: Sometimes you need to take a step back
Guas Steiner, the head of Haas F1, was perhaps the most popular person in the paddock on Thursday in Singapore – in the morning the team surprised many by renewing the contract with Roman Grosjean for 2020, although almost everyone was sure that he would be replaced by Niko Hulkenberg. Journalists turned to Steiner for clarification …
Question Today, the team confirmed that next season will continue to work with the same riders, although everyone was sure that you will sign a contract with Nico. Why did you decide to save Grosjean?
Gunter Steiner: I can not answer that! No, no, I’m joking. You know that the decision was made at the last moment, they are both very good racers, and I hope that Nico will remain in Formula 1, because I like him.
Nico is a good racer, but we decided to leave Roman. He has been with the team for four years, we know him from all sides, we know that when everything goes well, he achieves the goal, he knows the team perfectly.
This year our car does not perform as well as we would like, and this has nothing to do with the riders. It’s about the car, we openly admit it, understand it. And I’m not sure that the advent of a new rider will help us make the car better. It may help, but it may not.
Roman played an important role in understanding why we currently have problems with the machine, he helped us a lot. We do not want to increase the number of unknowns, but there is such a risk. Whether you have a good racer or a bad one is determined not by the results of the race, but by how you work together, how you work together. We know Roman and can work with him. That is why we decided to leave it for another year.
Question: Did the money issue play a role?
Gunter Steiner: We did not discuss this. We always study the situation as a whole, but the financial issue was not a separate item. We simply did not get to discussing it when we decided whether we would leave someone or not. I know both riders and their requirements, they were acceptable, but this did not affect the decision.
Question Nico was disappointed
Gunter Steiner: I would not say that he was happy. But I do not know. I think he has other options. Although I don’t know for sure, and he is not obliged to tell me about it. I just informed him that we went the other way. Nico is quite an adult, he has been in this business for a long time and has already been in similar situations. I hope he finds a place behind the wheel and we will see him in Formula 1 next year – he deserves it.
Question: Did the relationship between Niko and Kevin affect your decision?
Gunter Steiner: Not at all. I didn’t mean it when I talked about relationships. Our focus was only on how we get back to where we were a year ago. We know what we did last year to achieve good results, and we need to do it again. I think we understand where we made a mistake this year. So just repeating what we did in 2017 for the 2018 project will help us achieve the same results. This is our plan, and whether we succeed in implementing it or not, I do not know. The novel was part of all this, which is why we left it.
Question: Did you and Jean Haas agree on this issue?
Gunter Steiner: Yes, we came to the same opinion. Gene is very good at such matters. He takes a less drastic approach than me. We can say that he is a more balanced person. We discussed this topic and talked a lot about the pros and cons, about how to do the right thing. It’s good when there is a person who is able to look at the situation from the side, especially one like Jean. He has been engaged in this business for a long time and sees everything from a different point of view. I’m too close to everything, so sometimes my opinion is influenced by emotions, and it is quite detached, and sometimes this allows me to judge more accurately.
Question If you really come back to where you were last year, do you not worry that Roman’s performances can again cost you a loss of points
Gunther Steiner: Perhaps it was he who brought us there, and it was thanks to him that we got a chance to earn these points. We must deal with the rest. But if we cannot be in these positions, then we will have nothing to lose. What we are talking about can happen if we have a good car again, but can we create such a car without it? Probably no.
If we go back to assessing what we did to build a good car for last season, then Roman was part of this process. Yes, last year we lost points because of him, but we just need to work on it. At least we know how to return the speed of the car to the proper level.
Question do You think that the team will open a second wind
Gunter Steiner: I believe in that. Sometimes you need fresh blood for this, but sometimes you just need to remember what you did between 2017 and 2018 to be in such high positions. So why should I risk and change something? This year, something went wrong, and from my point of view, leaving Roman in this situation is better.