Haas will consider signing an experienced reserve driver to help with car development and to provide a benchmark for Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher in 2022.
The two rookies have been retained for a second year with Haas as the team hopes for a more competitive spell as a result of next season’s new regulations. Regardless of how competitive the 2022 car is, it will mark the first year the two drivers have had to develop a car in Formula 1, and Steiner admits it’s hard to gauge just how well the pair are performing and how they’ll push the development program forward.
“We have no reference – the reference is missing, and that is an experienced driver,” Steiner said. “So I don’t know exactly how we’re going to do it, there’s more than one way to do these things. We talked a little bit about it, but didn’t really do anything.
“I want to see how they get on, and you can see a lot from data – how much they improved and stuff like this – you can get a lot of information. But when we get there, we’ll find a solution for that if we need to. If we need to – and I’m not sure that we need to.
“It is always difficult if you take on a reserve or a reference driver. That would take (the full-timers) out of the car during testing, and testing isn’t a lot these days. So there’s pros and cons to everything, and we have to get to that point at some stage. I will discuss internally with the engineers what is best for the team.
“We have to make a decision, but there are a lot of these ideas floating around. We haven’t taken a decision, and hopefully we don’t need to do this, because it’s also not good if you put somebody in just to give you a reference and then they lose time to drive.
“So it’s a very difficult decision to take, and I just hope that our car is stable enough that they can get everything out of it. The better the car is, the easier it is for them to develop, because a stable car makes you go quicker because it gives you confidence.”
Steiner said a decision will not be made during this season, and insists he still feels good about the potential of his current pairing to develop the car.
“They both are learning a lot, and as I always say – they’ll never admit it – when you start in F1 you think you know everything, but 10 races later you actually realize how little you knew when you started,” he said. “And that process still will go on for a while with young drivers like this. There will be a few years of learning, but I think they are now in a good position.
“At least they learned all the processes, they know the team, that’s why I always said our aim is to have drivers that stay more than one year, because it takes a long time to get used to this, especially when you are a rookie. So I think we are in a decent place next year with the drivers.”