F1 reporter lifts lid on what truly happened to break Guenther Steiner and Haas relationship

Jamie Woodhouse
Haas team boss Gene Haas and Guenther Steiner, during 2023.

Haas owner Gene Haas alongside former team boss Guenther Steiner.

Dutch F1 reporter Jack Plooij said Guenther Steiner opened up to him about a shares dispute with Gene Haas that triggered his exit from the Haas F1 Team, apparently of Steiner’s own accord.

Steiner had served as Haas team principal since before they officially joined the F1 grid in 2016, Steiner laying the foundations and securing the crucial technical partnerships with Ferrari and Dallara to ensure that the team could go racing in Formula 1.

2023 though proved to be his final season with the team, as the shock announcement came that Steiner was out following the expiration of his contract, Haas’ trackside engineering director Ayao Komatsu named as Steiner’s replacement.

Guenther Steiner found $20million sponsor but a no to Haas shares

While Steiner had become the central figure of Haas, the team is owned by Gene Haas, who made it clear in the aftermath of Steiner’s departure that results were not up to the standards he expected, Haas returning to the foot of the Constructors’ Championship in 2023.

But according to Plooij, Steiner told him that he had requested shares in the team after sourcing out a sponsorship deal worth $20m. When this was denied by Gene, Steiner decided he would not continue.

“Guenther and I spoke at the beginning of the week, but we were not allowed to ask how it actually went with Haas and what he was going to do,” Plooij began on Ziggo Sport’s ‘Race Cafe’ programme. “But then he sent me a message and allowed me to tell what happened.

“Guenther found a $20 million sponsor, but he told Gene Haas that he wanted shares in the team to stay and continue the relationship. Haas, however, did not accept, and so Steiner himself left the team.”

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This version of events does contrast with what Steiner has said publicly, with his stance being that his exit came as a surprise following a brief phone call with Gene Haas.

“He called me up,” Steiner told Autocar. “It was out of the blue. I was like: ‘Okay, what do you want to tell me?’

“He said: ‘I don’t want to extend the contract.’

“I said: ‘In the end, it’s your decision. It’s your team and the contract is up. What can I do? Do I think it’s right or not? Whatever I say, you’ll disagree with it. So leave it at that.’

“It was a very short call; it wasn’t a big discussion or anything. It was also very strange. You work with somebody for 10 years and you get a call [like that]…

“It’s weird. I was okay. I just move on. It’s fine.

“Anyway, I couldn’t believe anymore in what was happening there.”

Steiner has already secured new roles in the F1 paddock in the form of punditry work, having been signed by German broadcaster RTL, while he will also be part of Network 10’s Australian Grand Prix coverage.

Read next: Guenther Steiner secures another new job in F1 paddock as schedule fills up