Guenther Steiner insisted he’s not worried about Kevin Magnussen‘s pace deficit to Haas teammate Nico Hulkenberg, despite the German leading his more recently experienced teammate.
It’s been three years since Hulkenberg last held a full-time Formula 1 drive, though he did make five substitute appearances in that span, while Magnussen only had one year out before returning to F1 in 2022.
That doesn’t seem to have slowed Hulkenberg down at all as he leads the teammate qualifying battle three-nil and sits eight places above him in the drivers’ championship, and Steiner was asked when he’ll start panicking.
“After the summer break, I won’t start panicking but I’ll just start thinking what to do,” Steiner told the media. “I wouldn’t say he’s lost confidence, I think he needs to get just in his head that he needs to catch up with Nico.”
Magnussen saw all too well how a driver’s fortunes can change in just a year at Haas when partnered with Mick Schumacher in 2022.
After a year where he was comfortably ahead of Nikita Mazepin, Schumacher looked certain to extend his stay at Haas but after some heavy crashes in the opening half of the season, the team-driver relationship soured.
With Steiner publicly criticising Schumacher before the German suffered another high-profile crash in free practice in Suzuka, by the end of the year the partnership had turned sour and Hulkenberg was drafted in for his compatriot, who finds himself off the grid for 2023.
Steiner backs Magnussen to catch up with Hulkenberg
However, it’s certainly not reached that stage with Magnussen, at least yet. He’s actually beaten Hulkenberg in two of the opening three races but the German’s seventh-place finish in Melbourne proves the key difference in the championship, while Magnussen has been second-best on one-lap pace.
“Every driver firstly wants to beat their teammate, that’s what everybody wants to do because he knows that the car is capable to do it and you’re behind him,” Steiner added.
“I think he can do it. He’s in good spirit. You know, I don’t see him down or anything, that is encouraging for me. He’s not like beaten up, like ‘I cannot do this’.
“But it’s down to him to do it. I think he’s got the security, the car is the same, you can look at what Nico is doing.”