Guenther Steiner: 'I'll sign Lewis Hamilton if Mercedes pay his salary!'

Guenther Steiner says Sir Lewis Hamilton won’t be joining Haas – unless Mercedes boss Toto Wolff pays his salary.

Steiner helped found Haas F1 and has served as its team principal since their debut in 2016, and is now one of the sport’s most popular personalities having rose to fame as the breakout star of Netflix’s wildly popular series Drive to Survive.

He has now written a book, aptly-titled Surviving to Drive, which documents the highs and lows of the 2022 season, and in an exclusive interview with Metro Sport we discussed it’s biggest talking points and the current state of Formula One.

One topic dominating the headlines is the future of Hamilton, with the seven-time world champion out of contract at the end of the year and enduring a difficult time with an underwhelming Mercedes car.

The 38-year-old has repeated stated his intention to remain with the Silver Arrows, and Steiner believes that is what will happen – though jokingly admitted he would sign the British sporting legend for Haas under one condition.

‘If Toto pays his salary, yes absolutely! You have to write that now! When Toto asks why he should pay the salary, I’ll say, “Because you should!”

‘I think he’ll stay. He’s a Mercedes man. Which other options has he got? All the other teams have got very strong drivers. Max [Verstappen] is at Red Bull, Fernando [Alonso] is at Aston Martin and Charles Leclerc is at Ferrari.’

Alonso had recently claimed that he would like to finish his career as Hamilton’s teammate, though moving to Aston Martin would be unlikely given that their other driver is Lance Stroll – son of team owner Lawrence Stroll.

‘I didn’t hear that one but OK! Good luck convincing Lawrence to get rid of Lance!’ Steiner added.

As well as ruling out a move for Hamilton, Steiner also said he has no intention of leaving Haas, even if a frontrunner like Red Bull or Mercedes came calling, adding: ‘I’ve got a job to finish here at Haas.

‘With Haas, I started it and when you start something you become even more attached than when you’re put into administrate something that exists. I started it and I put a lot of effort in to get Gene Haas to come into Formula 1.

‘I feel quite loyal to Gene and I feel loyal to the people at Haas because I haven’t finished the job. I need to bring the team at least one or two steps forward.

‘There’s a lot of people there that have been there since day one and I think they are there because they like it and I need to show leadership by sticking to it and not going away when something bigger calls. I’m very happy here.’

Haas may well have an opening for a new driver for 2024 however, with both Kevin Magnussen and new recruit Nico Hulkenberg out of contract at the end of this year,.

In Surviving to Drive, Steiner mentions that he was ‘thinking of alternatives’ to Mick Schumacher after only four races of the season, but with the fourth grand prix of 2023 just around the corner in Azerbaijan, he seems a lot more relaxed about his driver line-up.

‘You always have to think about what is happening. But we are only on race three and a lot of people have been asking already, “Have you spoken with Daniel [Ricciardo?”, “Are you going to replace somebody?”. No, it’s too early.

‘Kevin performs very well, in Jeddah he finished in the points. I know what Kevin is capable of doing because he has done it before. We as a team need to help him bring it back to what he was doing before. That is more my focus at the moment.

‘There was not many people around at the time who qualified for the position and the guy who clearly had the most experience was Nico. It was always risky because we din’t know whether he still had the hunger and determination to come back because he was out of a full-time drive for three years but he has the commitment.’

Surviving to Drive: A Year Inside Formula 1 is out now.

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