Former Haas team principal Guenther Steiner said his departure came as a surprise and not getting to say goodbye in person to many of his team “stung”, as he outlined where he feels Gene Haas needs to be open to greater investment.
Haas opted not to renew Steiner’s contract during the off-season, effectively firing the team principal who had helped establish the team a decade ago. While Steiner had not been intending to leave, he said he understands that Haas gets to call the shots, even if he suggests he’s not sure whether there was clear logic in replacing him at this point.
“It’s always a little bit of a surprise, but then in the end of the day he owns the team, he can do what he wants and it’s his decision,” Steiner said at the Autosport International Show.
“I think that [if a change is good] can only be answered in the future. I cannot say what’s happening in the future. For sure he thought that’s the way he wants to take the team forward. It’s his decision, not my one. He owns the place and if you own something you have the right to do what you want.”
Steiner confirmed he hadn’t been able to say goodbye or thank you to a number of team members directly following the call from Haas between Christmas and New Year.
“Yeah it stung, but in the end they all know me and they know I still appreciate what they did,” he said.
“It’s always best to say it to them as well, it would be nice to say ‘Hey guys, thanks for everything you did for the team’ because the team where we started, very small, running on adrenaline a lot of times, they did a good job. I want to say thank you to them, obviously it doesn’t make you happy not saying thank you.”
Steiner said that one area new team principal Ayao Komatsu will need help is in terms of capital expenditure, saying Haas’ rivals have started to reflect some of the changes and investments that are needed to be competitive in F1’s cost cap era.
“Since we had this model 10 years ago – when we started – Formula 1 has changed a lot,” he said. “You have seen how much Formula 1 changed after the COVID period, how much it grew, how much bigger it got, how different it got with the budget cap, how we use the budget cap to get ideas how to do things…
“If you look at the other teams, they are all gearing up – they started to gear up, some two years ago, some three years ago, some last year – so everybody is getting stronger and investing a lot in the future. Because Formula 1, I think, is on a very good path [in] where it is going at the moment, and that is what is needed to stay competitive.
“I don’t know Gene Haas’ plans for the future, he didn’t share them with me! And he doesn’t have to by the way, I want to make that clear, and I’m not really interested in it anymore! On the other side I see where other people are going, and the model we started with at the beginning I think was a very good model, but maybe it’s not time-relevant anymore. But who am I to say that?
“You need to invest outside of the cost cap to get the best out of the operational cost cap. I wouldn’t say it’s very complex, but you need to think about how can you get the most out of the operational cost cap money to make the car go quicker? And that is normally because you invest in something to do that, and that needs to be done. I think a lot of people picked up on that one years ago how to be efficient by spending money in capital investment and then getting the operational [cost cap] to be more efficient.”