Guenther Steiner has said “I don’t really care” when it comes to his popularity, in the wake of Bernie Ecclestone’s recent jibe about him.
The former F1 supremo threw his support behind Mick Schumacher after he was cast aside by Haas this season, claiming “an unsuccessful team boss” made sure his place on the grid would not continue into 2023.
“An unsuccessful team boss has ensured that Mick’s career in Formula 1 is temporarily over,” Ecclestone said to German publication SPORT1.
“But what should we make of the statements of a man who became a superstar of the paddock only through bold remarks in a Hollywood-staged documentary targeted at the US market?”
When discussing his breakout status as the star of Drive to Survive for his appearances on the show since it debuted, the Haas team boss affirmed that he never set out to become popular.
In fact, his fame and what others think of him has never figured much in his mind – though he acknowledged the popularity he has does serve a wider purpose for the sport.
“Look, it’s not bad, it’s good for Formula 1, it’s good for Haas, it’s good for me from time to time, so you have to deal with that and respect the fans because without fans we wouldn’t exist,” Steiner told MARCA in Spain.
“We need to be seen, because we have to make money and it costs a lot. But I insist that I didn’t wake up one morning and say ‘I want to be popular’.
“I don’t like it or dislike it, I don’t really care. I’m very passionate, but I’m not a bad guy, I tell people what I want and I have to do it if I want to achieve something because it’s not an easy fight out there.”
When asked about how he feels about the direction of travel the sport has had in recent seasons under Liberty Media compared to the Euro-centric Ecclestone years, Steiner believes Formula 1 is heading on the right trajectory for being a truly global sport.
“I like the classics, of course, but to have 23 classic races would be boring,” he reasoned.
“Until recently the only exception was Monaco, and now there are six or seven classics, the Las Vegas type mega-bombs, there are American races, there are night races, afternoon races…
“It’s a mixture and it’s difficult not to find one that catches your eye. If this hadn’t been done I think F1 would have started to fall.
“Because it was very static and if everyone else is moving you have to move or you start to go backwards. Liberty knew the potential, what they wanted to do, otherwise they wouldn’t have bought the show that had been kind of stagnant since 2000 and we kept repeating it over and over again.”