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Steiner: Haas didn't consider other F1 drivers, rookies too risky

Haas Formula 1 team boss Guenther Steiner "never spoke to anybody else" before renewing Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen's contracts as he favoured experience over riskier rookie drivers.

Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team Nico Hulkenberg, Haas F1 Team

The American outfit revealed on Thursday that the pair would remain for 2024, as widely expected.

Steiner said the decision was "straightforward" - despite Magnussen having struggled to match the qualifying pace of his returning team-mate - and so he did not begin to hold talks with other interested drivers.

"It was pretty straightforward since a few months ago when I started to say, 'I think we are pretty good'," explained Steiner.

"First of all, Nico, at the beginning of the year, obviously we didn't do a two-year contract because we didn't know how he would come back. But he came back very strong.

"Then, obviously, Kevin - he would've told himself that he's not happy with his performance in qualifying at the moment. He's just struggling with the inconsistency of the car.

"He doesn't know what it does from corner to corner.

"I think we have got the best driver pairing we can get at the moment, with our financials and the effectiveness of our car. So, I never actually spoke to anybody else."

Haas dropped Mick Schumacher for the 2023 season in favour of recalling Hulkenberg to a full-time race seat.

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas VF-23, Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-23

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas VF-23, Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-23

Photo by: Erik Junius

This came after the young German suffered two car-snapping shunts during last season that took millions out of the budget to force the team to abandon some updates planned for later in the year.

Steiner added that the decision to retain known quantities Hulkenberg and Magnussen reduced the "risk" compared to getting young drivers up to speed - a move not presently "appropriate" for Haas.

He continued: "If you look around the options, there is not a lot without risk. I don't want to take any risk in the moment because I don't think that's appropriate.

"You can take a risk if the risk is worthwhile to take. And, in this moment, we want stability.

"We've got one part of the team sorted out well with the drivers, in my opinion. So now we need to work on the car to sort that one out. You work from step to step.

"A year ago the drivers were a concern. This year the drivers are not a concern. Next year they will not be a concern.

"Tick the box and move on to the next thing. You have to improve."

Having praised the start of the F1 career of McLaren rookie Oscar Piastri, Steiner added: "It is still a risky business to take a young driver and how to go around it."

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