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Guenther Steiner was told over the holidays that he was being let go by the Haas F1 Team after eight seasons.
During Steiner's run at Haas, the team did not so much as reach a single podium.
While success on track eluded the team, Steiner became one of the more popular off-track figures in the current F1 paddock, in part because of his hold-nothing-back personality on the Netflix show Drive to Survive.
Former Haas F1 team principal Guenther Steiner says his starring role in the Formula 1 Netflix series, Drive to Survive, may have played a role in his ousting as Haas team boss.
Although the small Gene Haas-owned U.S.-based team finished dead last with stagnated development in 2023, 58-year-old Steiner was a highly popular figure in Drive to Survive thanks to his unique personality.
Haas ousted Steiner, who was instrumental in setting up the team's uniquely low-budget structure a decade ago, by telephone between Christmas and New Year.
"There has never been a more unsuccessful team boss in Formula 1 who still became a superstar thanks to a U.S. documentary," former F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone told f1-insider.com after the news broke. "In my time, when only performance mattered, this didn't exist."
Gene Haas admitted he was "embarrassed" that despite a strong technical alliance with Ferrari, the best his team could manage was a popular team boss and dead last in the constructors' championship. When asked if Haas was annoyed about the team principal's entertaining profile in Drive to Survive, Steiner admitted: "Perhaps that played a role.
"But the fact is, Haas benefited enormously from this popularity," he is quoted by European media outlet Speed Week. "This made contact with sponsors such as Moneygram possible."
Steiner also wrote a book off the back of his Netflix popularity entitled Surviving to Drive.
"It was never about becoming famous for me," Steiner said. "The people who know me know that it's not that important to me. I didn't get up in the morning thinking about becoming famous. I got up to go to work."
Nonetheless, Gene Haas admitted to becoming "embarrassed"—while Steiner actually thinks the problem at the team could have been a lack of investment.
"Everyone can choose their own words," he said. "But I think it's fair to say that when the budget cap was introduced, most teams invested in their infrastructure. It was about using the limited budget as cleverly as possible.
"I can't blame Gene Haas. Or I could, but that wouldn't change anything because as the owner he is free to decide what he wants to do. What is obvious is that without my work we could have closed in 2020."
Steiner said he is looking forward to spending time with his family until his next opportunity arises.