The one F1 team boss you ‘don’t want to cross’ in FIA stewards’ room

Jamie Woodhouse
Saudi Arabian GP Formula 1 paddock entrance.

The Formula 1 paddock entrance.

Chairman of the FIA stewards Tim Mayer said Haas boss Guenther Steiner is a figure you must not cross, but revealed a heart-warming story to demonstrate his love for Formula 1.

Since Haas arrived on the Formula 1 grid in 2016, Steiner has been developing a reputation as one of the more fiery and entertaining characters on the scene.

So much so that he has become something of a cult hero in the realms of Netflix’s Formula 1 docuseries Drive to Survive.

Guenther Steiner showed softer side with marshal interaction

Mayer said he faced the full wrath of Steiner back at the 2023 Monaco Grand Prix, that resulting in a reprimand for the Haas boss as he spoke out against a Nico Hulkenberg time penalty, though Mayer also told a story that highlights just how positive of a character Steiner is for Formula 1.

The series was most recently at the Circuit of The Americas for the United States Grand Prix, one of three home races for Haas, and Steiner spent an hour on Thursday meeting the volunteer marshals and signing autographs, all of his own accord.

“What a character he is,” said Mayer of Steiner on the F1 Nation podcast. “I can tell you, you do not want to cross him in the stewards’ room.

“I’ve had it full bore from him in Monaco, I was the steward there.

“I don’t get mad at him when he’s swearing at me and calling me all kinds of names in the stewards’ room. I just have to remind myself it’s all passion.

“Thursday, on his own back, he went up to meet all the marshals, he spent nearly an hour with the marshals up there and just absolutely wonderful, signed autographs, made jokes. He was just absolutely fantastic.

“And the marshals volunteer, they put in their hard work. And it’s been quite a huge thing for him to come out and see all those people. Makes a big difference.”

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Guenther Steiner still in dark over Haas upgrades

There was a great deal of intrigue surrounding Haas going into the US Grand Prix weekend, not just because it was their home race, but also due to the fact that they were debuting a major upgrade package for their VF-23, taking it down the route of the Red Bull concept.

Considering the manner in which Red Bull has dominated the F1 ground effect era so far, it was put to Steiner that excitement and expectations were high.

“I think expectation you put it wrong,” he replied. “I always was very careful with expectations.”

And that turned out to be wise, with Haas struggling to display a positive step forward in performance at COTA.

Steiner though is not yet fully certain over the extent of Haas’ improvement, though he believes some has been made, pointing to the lack of time afforded on a sprint weekend to truly understand such a new package.

“We need to find out how good it is and it’s a difficult weekend to find out, for obvious reasons, a sprint weekend,” Steiner continued.

“Yesterday [Saturday], obviously we were completely off in the sprint race, we realised that when we were off with the downforce level. So we decided to make changes on the downforce level and therefore start from pit lane. And I’m very happy that we made that decision, because we learned a lot more now.

“It was not fantastic, but we at least raced some of the cars today. Obviously we didn’t race the Red Bulls or the Mercedes, don’t worry, it’s one of these things. I think we made progress, but do I know where it is? I don’t know.”

A P7 finish in the Constructors’ Championship is up for grabs should Haas make a step forward with understanding of their upgrades, the gap to Williams in that position currently 14 points.

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