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’Superstar’ status led to Steiner’s demise

"But Haas F1 benefited enormously from this popularity"


16 January 2024 - 11:59
'Superstar' status led (...)

Gunther Steiner admits his starring role in the official Formula 1 Netflix series may have "played a role" in his ousting as Haas team boss.

Although the small Gene Haas-owned team finished dead last with stagnated development in 2023, 58-year-old Steiner was a highly popular figure in ’Drive to Survive’ thanks to his unique personality.

Haas ousted Steiner, who was instrumental in setting up the team’s uniquely lean structure a decade ago, by telephone between Christmas and New Year.

"There has never been a more unsuccessful team boss in Formula 1 who still became a superstar thanks to a US documentary," former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone told after the news broke.

"In my time, when only performance mattered, this didn’t exist."

Gene Haas admitted he was "embarrassed" that despite a strong technical alliance with Ferrari, the best his team could manage was a popular team boss and dead last in the constructors’ championship.

When asked if Haas was annoyed about the team principal’s entertaining profile in Drive to Survive, Steiner admitted: "Perhaps that played a role.

"But the fact is, Haas benefited enormously from this popularity," he is quoted by Speed Week. "This made contact with sponsors such as Moneygram possible."

Steiner also wrote a book off the back of his Netflix popularity entitled ’Surviving to Drive’.

"It was never about becoming famous for me," he insists. "The people who know me know that it’s not that important to me. I didn’t get up in the morning thinking about becoming famous. I got up to go to work."

Nonetheless, Gene Haas admitted to becoming "embarrassed" - while Steiner actually thinks the problem at the team could have been a lack of investment.

"Everyone can choose their own words," he said. "But I think it’s fair to say that when the budget cap was introduced, most teams invested in their infrastructure. It was about using the limited budget as cleverly as possible.

"I can’t blame Gene Haas. Or I could, but that wouldn’t change anything because as the owner he is free to decide what he wants to do. What is obvious is that without my work we could have closed in 2020."

Steiner said he is looking forward to spending time with his family until his next opportunity arises.

Haas F1


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