Gunther Steiner Fired Over Cash Crunch

Formula 1 2023: Australian Gp - Gunther Steiner
Formula 1 2023: Australian Gp - Gunther Steiner

Gunther Steiner has acknowledged that his dismissal by Gene Haas was due to his push for increased financial investment in their Formula 1 endeavors.

Despite Haas’s position at the bottom of the 2023 F1 standings, the American squad has led the pack by unveiling their new car for the 2024 season ahead of their competitors.

Yet, Ayao Komatsu, the incoming team principal, concedes that Haas might find themselves at the tail end of the grid in the upcoming season as well.

“When we get to Bahrain, we will probably be towards the back of the field, if not completely in last place,” he said. “The reason for this is not the quality of our people, it’s the late start and a two-month break in development to build the Austin upgrade.

“We had to divert resources and we lost time.”

But Komatsu’s axed predecessor, Steiner, thinks Haas’ slump is because the team didn’t adapt well enough to the start of the new budget cap era.

“I wanted to invest in the team, he didn’t,” he said, referring to Gene Haas. “We simply had different views on how things should proceed.”

Steiner said the team was established with its uniquely lean structure long before the budget cap era, leaving more powerful rivals able to adapt in a way that Haas could not.

“This is not a criticism of the team,” Steiner told Auto Motor und Sport, “but the reality. The budget cap has completely changed Formula 1.

“Old structures no longer work,” he explained. “McLaren, Williams, Alpha Tauri have been investing for two years in infrastructure so that they have more budget for the operational business. If you don’t follow suit, you can’t expect to be able to keep up.

“Every bit of new software, for example, reduces the expenses on the personnel side,” Steiner added. “Every new machine helps you produce more cheaply. Then you have money left over for developing the car.”

He said his plan was for a grand new team factory.

“If you want to attract new people, you have to offer them a pleasant environment. Otherwise no one will come anymore,” said Steiner.

Management of the team has now passed into the hands of experienced engineer Komatsu – and he disagrees with Steiner that Haas has hit a dead end without further investment.

“Even within our limited resources, we can do a better job,” he said. “I approach things differently and can already see several areas in which we can improve.

“If I didn’t believe in that, I wouldn’t have taken this job.”

As for Steiner, he already has his own company – North Carolina-based Nascar carbon fibre supplier Fibreworks Composites – and has become highly popular thanks to the F1 Netflix series Drive To Survive.

“I’m taking it easy and seeing what happens,” he says. “There are of course a few offers, including from television. But I won’t rush into anything.”

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