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Guenther Steiner

Steiner breaks his silence after Haas F1 Team departure

Guenther Steiner

The big news in the world of Formula 1 in the last seven days was the departure of,  the brains behind the Haas F1 Team, principal Guenther Steiner.

Gene Haas appears to have implemented a more significant ‘root and branch’ change across all sides of his racing endeavours as after the worst year ever in NASCAR, there have also been big changes on that end.

For F1, Steiner has now been replaced by the team’s former director of engineering, Ayao Komatsu, and Haas himself pulled few punches when talking about his departure, pointing to both having developed issues with their performance-related success on the grid.

But also the fact that he felt that they should be doing significantly better given the size of his financial input, and ergo, it was basically being wasted. How Haas’s odds have now changed with 2024 ahead of us will be interesting to follow and many will be able to read details on the Cheekypunter website.

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Whilst Steiner was not sacked, they simply chose to not renew his existing contract with a fresh offer, for many in the wider world of the sport the decision did come out of left field – particularly given the work Steiner put in during the Covid period. He introduced pay drivers in the shape of Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin to boost funding, and also arranged the deal with the team’s current title sponsor, Moneygram.

Steiner himself was a big draw for racing fans and the media, especially with his big and fiery personality coming to the fore in their Netflix publicity series, and the move had certainly left some big questions unanswered.

Having not featured in their statement, nor accepted press requests for comments initially, Steiner has now gone public and given the obvious tension unpinning Haas’ decision and his own reputation for being brutally honest, most would have expected fireworks – but whilst he was most definitely frank at times, he made his point more subtly than many would have expected.

In his interview with David Croft at the Autosport International Show this weekend, he more portrayed the serious, professional operator side of himself, skipping the first question about when he got the call, instead taking the opportunity to thank all of those that he had worked with during his decade in charge, as receiving the news over the phone, he did not get a chance to say goodbye in person.

Guenther: Formula 1 has changed a lot

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He also did not take the opportunity to directly criticise Gene Haas, despite some of his own comments about the 2023 season and his embarrassment. Instead choosing to accept that if those were his feelings, he had a right to air them, agreeing that nobody had been happy with their performance, but he had preferred to focus on how to improve it moving forward.

What did become clear is there was a strategic disagreement between the two on what the future should hold given the ever-escalating arms race F1 currently seems to be on. Haas clearly feels more can be achieved for the current spend, Steiner felt without greater investment and planning, they would continue to fall behind their competitors.

Steiner said: “Since we had this model 10 years ago when we started, Formula 1 has changed a lot. If you look at all the other teams, they are all gearing up – or they are not gearing up now, they started to gear up; some two years ago, some three years ago, some last year.

“Everybody is getting stronger, investing a lot in the future. I don’t know Gene Haas’s plans for the future; as I said before, he didn’t share them with me – he doesn’t have to, by the way. I want to make that clear as well.

“On the other side, I see where other people are going and the model we started with at the beginning I think was a very good model, but maybe it’s not time-relevant anymore. But who am I to say that?” questioned Steiner.

Many would say the ideal man given it was basically his plan for the team, his vision and it is how he has run them for a decade…so if he now has doubts that this system can work moving forward and he is prepared to abandon his entire ethos in an effort not to stand still, or fall further backwards, his voice should be a strong one.

That could potentially be one of his biggest gripes.