Steiner responds to Mazepin F1 pay driver criticism with Lauda comparison

Haas Formula 1 boss Gunther Steiner has responded to criticism of the team taking the well-funded Nikita Mazepin by pointing out three-time champion Niki Lauda paid to get into F1

Steiner responds to Mazepin F1 pay driver criticism with Lauda comparison

Mazepin was announced as a Haas driver for 2021 on Tuesday, and while there has been no confirmation of the commercial arrangements, the logos of his father's Uralkali concern are expected to be seen on the car.

With several other sons of wealthy fathers landing seats on the grid, inevitably there has been some scepticism about the choice on social media.

However Steiner insisted it isn't unusual for talented drivers to benefit from financial support, and said Mazepin has already proven his skills in Formula 2, where he lies third in the 2020 championship.

"There's a lot of drivers who get into F1 thanks to financial backing," said Steiner, who revealed talks with Mazepin began last year.

"There are very good drivers in F1 who in the beginning brought a sponsor.

"The first one to call is Checo [Sergio Perez]. Checo came to F1 and it was, 'He's a pay driver.' Look at Checo now, he finished on the podium, he's doing a good job.

"George Russell for me is one of the best drivers, but without the help of Mercedes he wouldn't be anywhere.

"There's a lot of them there. Lance Stroll, he was on the podium. If they are good in F2, and they have a sponsor, that's a perfect solution.

"When I spoke with Niki a long time ago he said, 'I made it into F1 thanks to a bank which sponsored me, so I could go and buy a drive'.

"I think it was BRM at the time. And he was three-times world champion."

Steiner stressed Mazepin's strong F2 form has qualified him for the drive, adding: "I followed him the whole season, what he was doing.

"For sure he had a difficult start, and without that difficult start, he would be fighting for the championship.

"So that is what I see, I can't see any more than that. Results always talk."

When challenged about following fellow wealthy sons Lance Stroll and Nicholas Latifi into F1, Mazepin himself pinpointed their abilities.

"What about them?" he said.

"They're very good professional racing drivers who have both achieved amazing results in their single seater careers."

shares
comments
Grosjean targeting F1 return for Abu Dhabi GP

Previous article

Grosjean targeting F1 return for Abu Dhabi GP

Next article

Grosjean recalls Bahrain F1 fire escape: "I saw death coming"

Grosjean recalls Bahrain F1 fire escape: "I saw death coming"
Load comments

About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Nikita Mazepin
Author Adam Cooper
The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola Plus

The 'new' F1 drivers who need to improve at Imola

After a pandemic-hit winter of seat-swapping, F1 kicked off its season with several new faces in town, other drivers adapting to new environments, and one making a much-anticipated comeback. BEN ANDERSON looks at who made the most of their opportunity and who needs to try harder…

The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture Plus

The delay that quashed Aston Martin’s last F1 venture

Aston Martin’s only previous foray into Formula 1 in the late 1950s was a short-lived and unsuccessful affair. But it could have been so different, says NIGEL ROEBUCK

Formula 1
Apr 10, 2021
Verstappen exclusive: Why lack of car-racing titles won't hurt Red Bull's ace Plus

Verstappen exclusive: Why lack of car-racing titles won't hurt Red Bull's ace

Max Verstappen’s star quality in Formula 1 is clear. Now equipped with a Red Bull car that is, right now, the world title favourite and the experience to support his talent, could 2021 be the Dutchman’s year to topple the dominant force of Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes?

Formula 1
Apr 9, 2021
Are we at peak F1 right now? Plus

Are we at peak F1 right now?

For many, many years Formula 1 has strived to do and to be better on all fronts. With close competition, a growing fanbase, a stable political landscape and rules in place to encourage sustainability, 2021 is on course to provide an unexpected peak

Formula 1
Apr 8, 2021
How crucial marginal calls will decide the Red Bull vs Mercedes battle in F1 2021 Plus

How crucial marginal calls will decide the Red Bull vs Mercedes battle in F1 2021

The longer Red Bull can maintain a performance edge over Mercedes, the better the odds will be in the team’s favour against the defending world champions. But as the Bahrain Grand Prix showed, many more factors will be critical in the outcome of the 2021 Formula 1 World Championship

Formula 1
Apr 7, 2021
How Williams’ new structure adheres to a growing F1 trend Plus

How Williams’ new structure adheres to a growing F1 trend

Williams held out against the tide for many years but, as MARK GALLAGHER explains, the age of the owner-manager is long gone

Formula 1
Apr 6, 2021
When a journeyman driver's F1 career lasted just 800m Plus

When a journeyman driver's F1 career lasted just 800m

Nikita Mazepin’s Formula 1 debut at the Bahrain Grand Prix lasted mere corners before he wiped himself out in a shunt, but his financial backing affords him a full season. Back in 1993 though, Marco Apicella was an F1 driver for just 800m before a first corner fracas ended his career. Here’s the story of his very short time at motorsport’s pinnacle

Formula 1
Apr 4, 2021
The nightmare timing that now hinders Mercedes Plus

The nightmare timing that now hinders Mercedes

Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton took victory at the Bahrain Grand Prix despite, for a change, not having the quickest car. But any hopes of developing its W12 to surpass Red Bull's RB16B in terms of outright speed could not have come at a worse time.

Formula 1
Apr 2, 2021