Guenther Steiner exit isn’t the only drastic Haas change, it runs much deeper

Elizabeth Blackstock
Haas racing in NASCAR and in F1 during the 2023 motorsport season.

Guenther Steiner's exit at Haas is a surface-level change indicative of more turmoil under the surface of the organisation.

Guenther Steiner’s exit isn’t the only drastic change going on at Haas, with change running through the entire organisation.

While Guenther Steiner’s exit from Haas’ Formula 1 team has understandably made headlines, Gene Haas has also revamped his NASCAR outfit in what may signal a significant shift in the fortunes of the motorsport world.

Stewart-Haas Racing, a partnership between NASCAR icon Tony Stewart and Gene Haas, has been on something of a losing streak, clocking its worst-ever season in 2023. 

For the first time since entering the sport in 2009, the team’s four top-level Cup Series cars all failed to secure a win. Paired with the Haas Formula 1 team’s last-place finish in the World Constructors’ Championship, it makes sense that we would see some big changes in the overall Haas strategy.

Earlier this week, Stewart-Haas Racing unveiled both a new logo and a new approach to racing. 

The sleek light blue, white, and black color scheme is intended to represent a “new DNA” and “new brand identity.” That included a now-deleted tweet proclaiming the team to be a “no-nonsense, come-as-you-are” operation promoting its bold, unapologetic, and unpretentious attitude.

A logo may seem minor, but it’s only the tip of SHR’s revamped iceberg. Longtime racer Kevin Harvick retired at the end of the 2023 season, and the team subsequently lost two of its largest sponsors, Busch Light and Hunt Brothers Pizza; those two brands have instead moved on to support SHR’s competitors.

Further, the team’s line-up has drastically changed. Replacing Harvick is rookie Josh Berry, while Noah Gragson will take over a full-time role in another SHR car despite a difficult 2023 season with the Legacy Motor Club team. 

Ryan Preece will continue with the team for the second year in a row, and Chase Briscoe has since become the team leader in what will be his fourth year with SHR. 

With under 25 days remaining until the first on-track NASCAR event of the 2024 season, the only major sponsorship package remaining in the team line-up comes from Mahindra Tractors. recommends

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This may seem like a far more minor concern than the massive shake-ups happening in F1, with Haas losing team principal Steiner and senior staff member Simone Resta in the build-up to 2024. 

However, it signals something of a loss of confidence on the part of Gene Haas. 

Stating that the sacking of Steiner was about both performance and an inability to agree on a path forward, it’s clear that the man in charge has seen the way his motorsport operations have floundered and is asserting his control in an effort to change course. 

Cashing in on bombastic personality hasn’t worked, and Gene Haas is changing tactics to bring both his NASCAR and F1 operations back to the fundamentals. 

That being said, without any fresh investment, either from Gene Haas himself or from critical outside sponsors, it’s difficult to understand how, exactly, things will change. 

An engineering mentality and a dedication to an “unapologetic” mindset can only take a global racing enterprise so far without the money and driving talent to back it up.

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