With the young Russian driver having taken on the nickname of ‘Mazespin’ inside the team after his run of incidents this year, Steiner made a surprise presentation on race morning at last weekend’s Styrian Grand Prix.
He handed Mazepin a special spinning top and base, and then joked: “It’s the Mazespin game. You spin this one: it is better than spinning the car!”
Mazepin laughed as he took the gift, and Steiner said he expected nothing else – with the Italian believing that some people’s perceptions of his driver are wrong.
“He was not uncomfortable,” explained Steiner. “He was pretty happy. You know, there is a happy Nikita Mazepin as well.
“He’s not this unhappy kid you all think he is, this miserable young man. He’s got a good sense of humour, you know?”
Steiner said releasing video of him handing over the gift to Mazepin was deliberate in showing to the world a different side to the youngster than how he is sometimes portrayed.
“I think it was decided to be a little bit funnier,” added Steiner. “We can be also funny here.
“It seems to be always everything on social media about Nikita is about bad things, so there can be also good things, you know? We try to use it to our advantage, and get away from the naysayers.”
In terms of on-track performances, Steiner still thinks it will be some time before Mazepin and teammate Mick Schumacher can fight rivals properly.
Asked about Mazepin’s hopes to have a race where he doesn’t get lapped, Steiner said he doubted it would be possible until 2022.
“To think this year for it to happen will be very difficult,” he said. “The blue flags they kill you, because they kill your tyres and it’s just a difficult spot, because you’re always around cars, and you cannot perform.
“So let’s hope next year it happens. I mean that is our aim, but this year it will be difficult.”