Nico Hulkenberg wary of the ‘hole’ left by the ‘character’ that is Guenther Steiner

Michelle Foster
Guenther Steiner laughing with Nico Hulkenberg. Bahrain February 2023

Haas team boss Guenther Steiner laughing with Nico Hulkenberg

Nico Hulkenberg says Guenther Steiner’s departure from Haas should not be underestimated as he brought a lot to the table with his “brand”.

Team principal at Haas since the very beginning, Steiner has been synonymous with the American team with his popularity bolstered by his antics and sweary rants in Netflix’s Drive to Survive series.

That, though, wasn’t enough to save him when Haas’ fortunes faltered.

‘And of course the character that is Guenther Steiner…’

Bottom of the standings last season as the much-anticipated B-spec VF-23 proved to be no better than its predecessor, Steiner was informed by team owner Gene Haas that his services were no longer required.

That not only came as a surprise to the Italian, who revealed he was informed of his exit during a very brief phone call from Gene Haas, but also to Hulkenberg.

“It was of course surprising, I didn’t expect it and didn’t see it coming,” the F1 driver told Sky Deutschland. “[Gene Haas] informed me, but then of course the focus goes forward.

“I had a very good relationship with Guenther, both professionally and personally. We got along very, very well.

“He was the one who played a key role in my comeback. He basically brought me back and opened the door here at Haas.”

He was also the man who approached Gene Haas before securing the vital deals with Ferrari and Dallara that saw Haas enter Formula 1 back in 2016.

“He set the whole thing up here,” Hulkenberg continued. “That was his concept, his business plan back then and it will certainly leave holes that we now have to fill in order to intercept it.

“And of course the character that is Guenther Steiner.

“That was of course a brand that brought a lot to the table off the track too. On the commercial side, I think, for the team too. It’s no secret through Netflix that he was very popular.” recommends

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Moving forward, Haas have appointed Ayao Komatsu as the new team boss with Gene Haas wanting a more technically-minded leader.

Hulkenberg hopes that, like James Vowles is now the team principal at Williams and Andrea Stella holds the reins at McLaren, Komatsu too can transition from tech boss to team leader.

“Ayao is someone who has been part of the team here since day one, who of course knows everyone here, the processes, inside out,” said the German.

“He’s incredible, but he also brings good knowledge as an engineer here. I think there are other teams that have done the same in recent years, that have put people in the position with real engineering knowledge and backgrounds. There are good examples that this works very well.”

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