F1 boss denies ‘bullying’ Mick Schumacher before he Hamilton’s back-up

F1 preview: A lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix

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Guenther Steiner has hit back at claims that his Haas team bullied Mick Schumacher despite complaints from Formula 1 fans. Footage from the Formula 1: Drive to Survive series showed the friction between the pair grow before parting ways.

Nico Hulkenberg was signed by Haas at the end of the last year to replace Schumacher, a decision that they had spent months brewing over. It was ruled that a more experienced driver would be more beneficial, with Schumacher struggling to bolster his reputation with Haas.

The German was involved in several expensive crashes which saw Haas take the decision not to extend his contract, though that was only announced once the team were the last on the grid to confirm their driver line-up this year. Thus, it meant that Schumacher was left without a team for months as there were no seats available.

Footage on Netflix’s Drive to Survive has shown that the writing was on the wall for the 23-year-old, with members of the Haas team being accused of bullying for how they spoke about Schumacher and criticised him after some questionable performances. However, Steiner has strongly denied those claims and insisted that heated conversations were ‘not unusual’ in the sport.

He told RTL: “There was nothing out of the ordinary. We don’t need to do bullying, because, after all, he was our driver. If we want to decide something, we don’t have to do it.

“I can also absolutely understand Mick’s fans. In the heat of the moment, you sometimes say something that you might say differently an hour later, but that wasn’t bullying at all.”

Schumacher was eventually signed by Mercedes to be their reserve behind Lewis Hamilton, though he is waiting to see whether other opportunities arise in 2024 that will see him race more regularly and be a more important role for a team.

Steiner and Schumacher, as one would expect, have not kept in regular contact since the latter was moved on, though their relationship is not uncivil. The pair were in the paddock last month for the Bahrain pre-season testing and did greet one another and exchange an awkward few words.

Steiner explained: “When I saw him last weekend, I said hello to him. We didn’t speak to each other. It’s a good thing because of the distance between us in the paddock and the toilets, we don’t always run into each other.”

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