“I stayed at Haas too long,” admits Steiner

"I stayed at Haas too long," admits Steiner


Former Haas team boss, Guenther Steiner admits that he remained with the struggling American outfit for too long.

Once the American team finally made it to the grid, despite a slow start by its third season it was fifth in the team standings. However, that was as good as it got.

Having achieved what he’d set out to do – giving his machine tool company global coverage – as his team slipped down the order Gene Haas looked to sell. However there were no takers, and with the results, like the livery and, for the most part, the driver line-up, uninspiring, there weren’t likely to be.

However, then came the pandemic, lockdowns and a whole new audience for F1 courtesy of Drive to Survive, and one of the stars of the show was the team’s feisty boss, Guenther Steiner.

Even though the team continued to languish at the back of the grid and bottom of the timesheets, Steiner’s expletive-ridden rants ensured he and Haas remained fan favourites.

Despite the team’s lack of success, the boom that the sport was enjoying was increasing its value, causing Gene Haas to have second thoughts about selling and Steiner to become one of the most vocal objectors to Andretti’s bid to enter the sport.

Behind the scenes however, Steiner was said to be unhappy with various aspects of the team, not least the way in which, like a profiteering landlord, Haas was unwilling to invest further as he awaited the right offer to sell.

Then, just 16 days into the new year, came the news that the Italian had been fired and replaced by Ayao Komatsu.

In a column for the official F1 website, Steiner now admits that, having been with the team since the start, he might have remained too long.

“Life has been good since I left Haas ahead of this season,” he writes. “These last few weeks are the first time I’ve switched off from F1 for around a decade. This time has been good for me.

“The longer time goes on, the more I can see that I stayed at Haas too long,” he adds. “When you step away, you get clarity, and you can see what you need to do. While you’re there, you’re in denial, you think you can do it but you cannot.”

Describing the constant struggle of trying to improve the team but with little in the way of resources as soul destroying, he writes: “With what we had, you could still fight for being seventh, eighth or ninth, but you couldn’t fight for podiums without the same weapons as the other guys. Doing that in the long-term is not what I want to do in life. I don’t want to be seventh again. I’ve done that. I want to be able to fight, to battle at the front.

“When Toto Wolff started with Mercedes, the team at the time was not at the top,” he continues. “Yes, they had the advantage of the engine at the beginning, but he set everything up right to be successful in the mid-term, and they won eight constructors’ championships.

“It’s the same thing with Red Bull. How long did it take for them to get there? Every year, they kept on getting better. You need that patience and long-term planning.”

Talking of Red Bull, in some circles, Steiner has been linked with the troubled Austrian outfit, and though he doesn’t address that particular claim he admits that he would consider returning to the sport.

“I would come back to F1 in the future, but it needs to be the right project, done right,” he insists.

With his team boss hat on, Steiner admits to being very impressed by Oliver Bearman’s debut in Jeddah, and says that were he still in charge he would sign the youngster in a heartbeat.

“Based on his performance in Jeddah, after what I saw from him at Haas, I’d put him in a race seat. Obviously, it depends on the circumstances and what seats are available. You need to see the whole landscape, but he would be a candidate.

“For prospective employers, that drive will have taken a lot of doubts away of what he is able to do,” he adds. “He’s in a good place as at the end of this year, there are a lot of contracts up with drivers, so he can put himself in good a position. He can’t go anywhere he wants, but I believe there is more than one opportunity for him.

“I think a lot of teams will proactively look at him now after his performance last weekend, so I think there is a good possibility for him to get a seat next year.”


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