FEBRUARY 5, 2024

Haas owner didn't want to spend more on F1 says Steiner

Gunther Steiner admits he was fired by Gene Haas because he wanted the billionaire team owner to spend more money on Formula 1.

Kevin Magnussen, Abu Dhabi GP 2023
© Haas F1 Team / LAT

Haas may have finished dead last in 2023, but the small American outfit is first out of the ranks with its new car launch for 2024.

New team boss Ayao Komatsu, however, admits Haas may once again be last this season.

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.