Steiner, who has always said things directly, can be too harsh. Especially if the topic of conversation is the mistakes that he, his team and especially his drivers may have made in the heat of competition.
It’s part of his personality, and it has nothing to do with a boring boss who just makes bland PR statements. This is what has made him an essential figure when it comes to talking about the paddock.
But that does not mean that his way of saying things does not have its negative side. And sometimes the truth hurts.
Criticizing people too much in public can lower their morale. Badmouthing their drivers only serves to increase the pressure on them at a time when perhaps they need all the support they can get.
Steiner had to find that balance point at the start of the season, when Mick Schumacher suffered a series of serious accidents while seeking his first points in F1.
When outside criticism began to pour in, Steiner did his best to relieve some of that pressure. But he also did not hesitate to let it be known that he was unhappy with the performance of the young German.
There was especially harsh criticism, especially after his accident in Monaco. But Steiner is clear about one thing: it is better to tell the truth even if it hurts.
“I think I have nothing to hide,” Steiner told Motorsport.com of his management style.
“I’d rather tell the truth and deal with the consequences than tell part of the truth and then have to hear things like, ‘I said, he said.’ What is real?”
“In this way, people believe me because they know that what I say is true. And so we can face the problem and improve. When you have a bad race, you can learn not to repeat the same mistakes. It’s the same here.”
Steiner is aware that his harsh statements can reach the people involved, and that this can hurt their feelings, but he is clear that he never intends to hurt anyone on his team deliberately.
“Obviously, and while that’s my goal, it’s hard not to hurt anybody when you’re in this business. But sometimes if a driver makes a mistake, like when Mick has a crash, I can’t just say, ‘It doesn’t matter; glad'”.
“What I have to say is: ‘No, I’m not happy. We’ll try to work through it and I’ll have to find a financial solution.’
“But I wouldn’t say, ‘No, no problem.’ Because then you [the media] will say, ‘Are you stupid or what?’ So that’s my approach to life, in general. You know, I just say what’s on my mind and I hope I don’t hurt anybody.”
Although there were times when Steiner was unhappy with Schumacher’s accidents, he is optimistic about the youngster’s progression . Mick is improving quite a bit, scoring points at the British and Austrian Grands Prix
Asked how he dealt with Schumacher’s ups and downs, Steiner said the key for him was to try not to give him specific driving advice.
Instead, he was trying to reassure Schumacher that he was going to be given every opportunity to show what he could do.
“I think a lot of pressure has been put on him from the outside, and I don’t know how he deals with that, because he’s doing what he has to do,” he said.
“But I always believe in giving them the same opportunities as the other driver, and I’ll do that as long as I’m a team manager. When it’s like that, you can look them in the eye and say, ‘Hey, this is what you got, now it’s your turn. find a solution because I can’t drive the car. I know it’s not going the way you wanted. But keep trying, you have the same chance.’
“Except for the evolution of Hungary, they have always received the same treatment, also in terms of strategy. That is the only thing I can do for him: keep him focused mentally. Then, obviously, there are interferences from the outside, but that I couldn’t handle it anymore, because I can’t get into his head.”
“When Kevin Magnussen came, things changed a lot, and he needed to adjust to his new partner. But I can’t tell him, it has to do with the data where he loses time and things like that.”
“But I think he has overcome it. Obviously, we would have liked him to come earlier, because then we would have more points, but in the end he did well at Silverstone and Austria. So I hope we continue on that path.”
Magnussen’s stellar performance
While Schumacher was giving Steiner headaches, across the garage Magnussen impressed everyone on his return to F1.
Magnussen fit back into the team without problems. Steiner believes that both he and team owner Gene Haas underestimated the value of having a high-quality, experienced driver, especially after contesting the 2021 campaign with two rookies.
“We’ve seen it with Fernando Alonso too: there are some guys who can still drive these cars,” he said.
“But I think we really underestimated how difficult it is and how talented you have to be. Because it’s not just about speed: it’s about going into a race and staying calm and getting to the finish – maximizing what’s there.”
“Sometimes you have to make do with what you have, and not try to chase a dream that weekend. It’s better to go home with something under your arm than to spoil everything.”
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