Guenther Steiner admitted he delayed his 2023 driver decision "on purpose" to test how much Nico Hulkenberg really wanted the seat.
The 35-year-old will hold a Formula 1 race seat for the first time since 2019 when he joins Haas next year. He replaces his fellow German Mick Schumacher, whose own F1 future is now uncertain after only two years in the sport.
Steiner took a long time to make a decision, sparking criticism from some fans and pundits for making Schumacher wait to find out what his future holds. Speaking to The Race in the wake of the announcement, he revealed he did it on purpose.
"I spoke to [Hulkenberg] for a pretty long time, then maybe not speaking, just seeing how he reacted," he said. "With some people, when you want something, you get high and then you lose interest. It's a psychology thing.
"But he always kept on pushing, always asking. I left that seat on purpose there to see. But he always came back, 'What is happening? What is happening?'. I don't think he believed that this could happen until a few days ago. I think he didn't believe it's just going to happen.
"I just feel like he wants it. Over speaking with him, he really wants it. Then the next thing is to see for how long you want it, because it's one of these things, you want it and then you realise how hard it actually is, and think, 'Oh, why did I do this?'. But I don't think he gets there."
The decision itself was a tough one for Steiner. Schumacher had the advantage of already holding the seat, knowing the team and its staff and being the younger, longer-term option. There are questions over Hulkenberg's age and lack of racing in the past few years, but the Haas chief insists he was not put off by either of those factors.
"You don't lose your talent in years," he added. "Obviously with age you get slower because everything slows down but I think as long as you keep fit – and he is fit – I think you're going to be okay.
"So I'm not worried about that. It's more of a mental thing for me – 'Do I want to do this or not?'. Did he want it? Oh yeah, Jesus Christ. He's chasing me a lot. They played the game, him and his lawyer! It's one of the answers you will never be 100% sure until you [test it]. You just need to try to do as much as possible so you're sure that it will happen."