Speaking to reporters ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend, Haas drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen played down fears over their futures at the team after a series of on-track collisions between the two this season have exasperated their team.
Team boss Guenther Steiner told reporters in Budapest he might have to get tough and impose ‘team orders’ to sort out matters when they were racing wheel-to-wheel.
“When they are close to each other I think we need to take it out of their control,” he said. “I think I have to be firm with them and tell them what to do.”
Haas have yet to confirm their 2020 driver lineup and Steiner said “team chemistry” would be taken into account.
The Italian added, however, that there was little sense in making the “desperate move” of dropping a driver during the season.
The two teammates featured later in a scheduled news conference organised by the sport’s governing FIA, with Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat sitting between them as they put on a public demonstration of friendship.
Both drivers said they would not mind “rules of engagement”, with the main focus on helping the team improve.
“I was more worried last year than this year,” Frenchman Grosjean said of his future. “Last year there were a lot of reasons that I could have ended up this year at home and I did (make) many mistakes that I shouldn’t have done with my experience. But I think since then I have recovered pretty well.”
Magnussen said he was “not worried at all.”
Both also insisted their relationship was not bad at all, despite comments over the team radio at Hockenheim suggesting otherwise.
Grosjean had exclaimed then that Magnussen “will never learn” while the Dane had told the team: “I’m really not comfortable racing this guy”.
“People could think that it doesn’t look good but actually the relationship with Kevin is really good,” Grosjean told reporters on Thursday. “We phone each other once a week or so. We sat down and said, ‘What can we do better?’, just to make sure that’s not happening again.”
Magnussen agreed, “In the heat of the moment we’re blaming each other on the radio and stuff like that, but what people don’t see is that we get together between the races and talk it through and try to be constructive and move on in a constructive way.”
“Apart from those incidents on track, I feel that we have a pretty good working relationship.”
Last weekend’s German Grand Prix was, ironically, Haas’s best race of the season so far with Grosjean and Magnussen finishing ninth and 10th on track but then promoted to seventh and eighth after the Alfa Romeo drivers were penalised.
Haas are now eighth, level on points with Alfa Romeo.