Gene Haas says the decision to get rid of Guenther Steiner was ‘all about performance’ and he has ‘no interest in being last’ in the Formula One championship.
In Wednesday, we got the shock announcement that Steiner was leaving Haas, the F1 team he helped found 10 years ago, with Ayao Komatsu taking his place as team principal.
Haas chose not to renew the 58-year-old’s contract, though as there was no statement from Steiner when the announcement was made, it has likely the split was not amicable.
Steiner was one of the most popular figures in the paddock, thanks largely to the success of the Netflix docu-series Drive to Survive.
Results on the track had not been great in recent years however, with the team finishing last in the standings in 2021 and 2023, and it is for this reason that Haas have opted to ‘try a different direction’.
‘It came down to performance,’ team owner Gene Haas told the official Formula One website.
‘Here we are in our eighth year, over 160 races – we have never had a podium. The last couple of years, we’ve been 10th or ninth.
‘I’m not sitting here saying it’s Guenther’s fault, or anything like that, but it just seems like this was an appropriate time to make a change and try a different direction, because it doesn’t seem like continuing with what we had is really going to work.
‘I like Guenther, he’s a really nice person, a really good personality.
‘We had a tough end to the year. I don’t understand that, I really don’t. Those are good questions to ask Guenther, what went wrong.
‘At the end of the day, it’s about performance. I have no interest in being 10th anymore.
‘We have been using a lot of their [Ferrari’s] hardware. It works really well. I’m embarrassed that we haven’t been able to do better with it, but going forward, I want to take advantage of good equipment that a lot of other teams don’t have.
‘I talk to a lot of the engineers, and I think our biggest failing is aero; our aero programme needs work. When you’re at the track and you’re humiliated every weekend, I’m going to stop taking that one anymore.’
‘We really do need something different because we weren’t really doing that well. Like I said, it all comes down to eight years in, dead last. Nothing more I can say on that.’
Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg was one of those to pay tribute to the departing Steiner, writing on Twitter: ‘Thanks, Guenther. For your trust, friendship and the opportunity to go racing in F1 again! You’re definitely a character.. all the best!’
The 2024 F1 season gets underway with the Bahrain Grand Prix on 2nd March.
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