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Mid-season Haas driver replacement would be "desperate move"

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Mid-season Haas driver replacement would be "desperate move"
By:
Co-author: Valentin Khorounzhiy
Aug 1, 2019, 12:17 PM

Haas Formula 1 team boss Gunther Steiner says dropping either Kevin Magnussen or Romain Grosjean in-season to stop them hitting each other would almost be a “desperate move”.

Teammates Magnussen and Grosjean have collided in the last two grands prix, including a first-lap clash in Britain that caused both cars to retire early on and left Steiner furious.

Speculation after the British GP suggested Haas could replace one of the drivers to solve the issue, as Steiner admitted he was annoyed an instruction issued after contact in the Spanish GP had gone ignored.

But despite a further coming together at Hockenheim, Steiner said ahead of this weekend’s Hungarian GP that replacing either driver during the season is unlikely.

“I’m not thinking about that,” he said. “It’s part of it, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense. Then you just open up more questions than answers.

“You disrupt a lot of other things, so that would be a desperate move almost if I have to do that one.”

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Haas is set to decide its line-up for next year after the summer break, although while Grosjean is out of contract at the end of the season, Magnussen's current deal runs through 2020.

Steiner said the dynamic between Grosjean and Magnussen did not mean the partnership was doomed, as he believes they can dislike each other and still work well for the team.

“When you make a decision the team chemistry comes always into it,” Steiner said when asked by Motorsport.com if the driver relationship played a part.

“Who is pushing who, all that stuff, so it’s nothing new to think about when we make our driver choice for the future.”

He added that “if they don’t get on personally I cannot fix that” and said he would not wish to get involved in a matter like that anyway.

“As long as they respect the team and do what the team wants them to do, I’m fine with that,” said Steiner.

“If they don’t speak to each other, as long as they don’t do anything negative towards the team, I have to live with that and I can live with that.

“Trying to force somebody to have a good relationship with somebody doesn’t work. I’m no psychologist but I know this much.”

While he admits “circumstances” have played a part in Magnussen and Grosjean’s repeat clashes, Steiner confirms he will now look to impose much stricter guidelines for his drivers for the foreseeable future rather than risk further incidents by allowing them to battle each other on track.

“It’s the only solution, to be firm with them,” Steiner said. “Tell them what to do when they get close to each other.

“When they’re not close to each other I don’t really care what they’re doing. When they’re close to each other we need to take it out of their control who is doing what.”

Steiner plans to discuss the situation personally with Grosjean and Magnussen on Thursday, having given himself time to reflect on the events of Hockenheim - where the pair shrugged off late-race contact to both finish in the points.

“It could have happened the same again, they both damage the car and you don’t take points home,” he said of his drivers’ German GP clash.

“I think I say nothing, think about it, then say something. If I get the same type of upset with them as at Silverstone, that’s not constructive.

“I need to come up with something better. To get proper control of it and move forward because it’s not acceptable towards the team. The team is again suffering if we keep on doing this.”

Additional reporting by Jonathan Noble

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