Haas team principal Guenther Steiner says experience of improving midfield teams is the main reason Nico Hulkenberg was chosen to replace Mick Schumacher.
Hulkenberg will join Haas in 2023 alongside Kevin Magnussen, with Schumacher leaving the team after two years in Formula 1. Steiner insists Schumacher was given as long as possible to try and retain the seat- only signing contracts and confirming the news on Wednesday – but says Hulkenberg’s history racing for Williams, Force India, Sauber and Renault won out.
“Experience (was the difference),” Steiner said. “He was in F1 a long time and he was with teams in the midfield for a long time so he knows how they work, how to make them better and we looked at that wherever he was the team always made progress and we hope, that’s our aim to do that as well here and that’s why it came up that choice.
“I think (Schumacher lacks) the experience of multi-years in Formula One and never have been with another team than us while Nico has been with three or four teams before. So he has experience you know and experience takes time to make and in the moment we don’t have time because we want to move forward, we don’t want to be where we are now, we want to get better you know?”
However, Steiner was keen to point out that the decision didn’t mean Schumacher wouldn’t have been able to help the team improve.
“I would say Mick doesn’t have the experience Nico has got. And we needed experience to bring the team forward because I don’t want to say the driver wasn’t ready for the future, the team also needs to be a lot better for the future to get better.
“I’m not blaming it on Mick that we are where we are, but in general the team, in 2018 we made good progress the first years, we looked at that one as well to move forward and then we stagnated in ’19 and then in ’20 we went down.
“So we need to go forward again and that’s the best with experienced people and drivers which have done this before, which can bring experiences into our team which they have made in other teams.”
“Absolutely, Mick improved a lot this season, you all saw it, I don’t have to tell you that one, and at some stage it was … and that’s why it took us so long, you know? We didn’t take this decision, as people think, before the summer, it took us this long to decide what is best for the team, as I always said. He drove hard and good in some races.
And the Haas team principal says he was impressed with the way Schumacher received the news when informed he wouldn’t be retained on Wednesday.
“Very grown up, I must admit. I said we thank him for what he did because he was in the team and we were in a difficult time. It wasn’t always rosy here but he took it as a grown up as I said.
“Obviously it’s always emotional. But he actually appreciated we gave him a chance. It’s never nice to do this, it’s never a joy to do this. But I just wanted to speak with him about what is going to happen and that happened just yesterday.”