Guenther Steiner shed light on his mentality towards his time with Haas ending, during an extensive interview with PlanetF1.com during the F1 2023 season.
After almost 10 years as the team boss of the Haas F1 team, Steiner won’t be present on the grid in 2024 as he and Haas parted ways ahead of the new season.
Steiner has been the talismanic head of the American outfit since their inception, but team owner Gene Haas opted for a change of direction with senior engineer Ayao Komatsu given the nod to take over the team leadership position.
Guenther Steiner: I want to leave a team where someone can run it better than me
Having been in charge of the Haas squad for almost a decade, his own future came up for discussion when Steiner sat down with PlanetF1.com for an exclusive interview in the summer of 2023.
Having achieved so much – getting Haas off the ground and onto the grid, scoring the team’s first points, weathering the COVID-19 pandemic and coming out the other side with a competitive car in a 2022 campaign that even netted them their first pole position, had Steiner set himself an end goal he wanted to achieve before leaving F1 behind?
“No, I never set… you know, some things – if they’re over, they’re over and it’s fine. I never set points in my life where I wanted to be the team principal of a team,” he said, when asked about whether he’d marked out a point at which he’d achieved what he wanted with the team.
“I never set this point. I got here in my own way, and I will go in my own way. When I don’t have the enthusiasm to do this anymore and the drive, I know when to stop. When I get up in the morning and I don’t have the drive that I want to get up to do this, then I stop, because… I’m fine to stop.
“I’ve done what I need to be doing, always hoping that my health will let me do this because there can be somebody else deciding for me that I have to stop.”
With that moment coming after the 2023 season, as Haas elected not to renew Steiner’s contract after an alleged disagreement over the direction the team is going, Steiner had said he hoped to get the team into a position of stability before relinquishing control to someone else.
“I hope that it’s not coming but my own goal is for the team to… as I said, 2021 was difficult, we’re building it up again, and I want to stabilise it,” he said.
“Then, at some stage, I can say if I leave, the team continues and that’s what I want to leave – a team in Formula 1, which I started, and then somebody else can take over, run it, and, hopefully, better than me.”
As long-time colleague and right-hand man Komatsu takes over that role, Steiner had said that he genuinely wishes the best for whomever is appointed as his successor and that, if his time in charge did come to an end, he would be fine with that decision.
“Honestly, I don’t mean that sarcastically, because I wish everybody good fortune going forward,” he said.
“But, at the moment, I’m still motivated to get it to that stage to hand it over. I think, at the moment, it is not ready yet but, if the moment comes tomorrow, I’m fine as well. I have no regrets.”
Steiner also said he has no interest in jumping ship to join another team, saying that Haas was his “passion project.”
“I started this team, I went out and found an investor. If I leave… I never wanted another job, I would have had other jobs before, but I didn’t want them,” he said.
“This was one thing I wanted to do. And it’s pretty cool to set up an F1 team in your lifetime. There are not many people doing that and, therefore, I feel committed to the people.
“We have got quite a few people here, who are still here from day one. I don’t get attracted by the neighbour’s greener grass. With Gene Haas, I know I have a very good boss, I’ve got a good relationship with him.
“He’s tough with me, but I’m tough with other people. So, if I do a bad job, I’m not afraid that he tells me. Not that he needs to tell me but, if he has a different opinion on it, I’m OK with it. I’m not getting upset about it.”
Steiner is yet to respond to the news of his departure from Haas, with the former team boss not included in the comments announcing his departure and the confirmation of Komatsu.
He is scheduled and confirmed as being in attendance at the Autosport International Show in Birmingham on the weekend of January 13th and 14th, where PlanetF1.com’s Sam Cooper will be on the ground for Steiner’s immediate reaction as he addresses questions on the main stage.