If there is one adjective that sums up Guenther Steiner’s new autobiography entitled ‘Surviving to Drive’, it is straight-talking.
The 280-page diary, which takes its name from the Netflix series that propelled Steiner from just another team principal to fan favourite megastar, is billed as an “unobstructed view of what really goes on behind the scenes” of a Formula 1 team – and it was quite the season for Steiner and his Haas outfit.
While a suite of new regulations, which Haas sacrificed their 2021 season to prepare for, should have been their big focus, instead Steiner and co. were forced to navigate the fallout of a European nation invading its closest neighbour.
Haas, as always seems to be the case, found themselves dealt a bad hand. In bed with the Russians at a time when everyone was looking to get rid as quickly as possible.
The book, laid out in a diary format, details the thoughts and decisions behind Steiner and owner Gene Haas’ decision to drop Nikita Mazepin and severe ties with his father’s company and Haas’ title sponsor Urakali at a time when all Steiner really wanted to focus on was the upcoming season.
The term “foking”, used frequently throughout, seems to have been partially invented as a result of the infamous “he does not fok smash my door” line from the Netflix series that has adorned many a T-shirt, but also as a way to avoid an uncomfortable question from the publisher as to why there was over 100 swear words within the book. For those afraid Steiner’s voice had been watered down though, fear not as there are plenty of s**ts to make up for it.
Once Mazepin has been dealt with, the book moves on to what becomes the overriding theme: Mick Schumacher.
The relationship between Steiner and Schumacher is one of the most analysed in Formula 1. Steiner maintains his innocence throughout, instead taking aim at the German media and Ralf Schumacher who is referred to only as “Mick’s Uncle”, making him into F1’s version of Voldemort.
But the frustrations bleed through. Steiner criticises Mick for failing to realise the gravity of the situation following his Monaco crash which ripped the VF-22 in half and it was not the young German’s first offence.
The decision to not renew Schumacher’s contract is contained to a single page with Steiner insisting that it was not solely due to the expensive crashes, but instead a desire to have tried and tested experience in the seat in the form of Nico Hülkenberg.
Away from Schumahcer, the book does offer an interesting glimpse as to just how much is expected of the men and women we see every race weekend. The various time zones and times of day Steiner writes in demonstrates that this is very much a 24/7, 365 days a year kind of job and perhaps that should elicit a little more sympathy next time anyone from in the paddock does something that ruffles a few feathers.
Steiner should also be praised for his honesty and truly does ‘tell it how it is’, as much as his current role allows. He is certainly not one to hide his emotions. A poor race weekend is met with a diary entry filled with foks and s**ts while a good race is filled with the same expletives but with a different meaning.
His battles are not just consigned to the Schumacher family either with the FIA and McLaren also coming into the crosshairs at various points and the book gives fans an idea of just how petty and political this sport can be.
‘Surviving to Drive’ provides an absorbing view into the world of Formula 1 for Haas fans and non-Haas fans alike, and the publishers must have rubbed their hands in glee when the many moments of chaos descended upon the Haas team in 2022.
For if life at the American team is one thing, it is never dull.