Guenther Steiner Is Out At Haas, But His Linguistic Genius Is Immortal
4:41 PM EST on January 11, 2024
My first instinct was to insist there isn't anything to say about Guenther Steiner, now that he's parted ways with Haas, but that's not correct. More accurately, there's little to say about Haas. The new team principal, Ayao Komatsu, had followed former Haas driver Romain Grosjean to the team and previously served as a trackside engineering director. Now he carries the burden of the whole Haas operation, which, despite being American's Team™ (by virtue of being the only American team), has as little cultural standing as it does sporting success since entering Formula 1 in 2016. Even Williams, when it was in the pits, desperately clinging to being the last family-owned team in F1, was still Williams. While it'd be difficult to find a casual F1 fan who can pinpoint anything about Haas's team identity, it'd be equally difficult to find a fan who couldn't tell you anything about Steiner and his inimitable way with words.
Haas is losing more than just a funky little guy in front of the camera. Steiner has been with the team from the start and reportedly oversaw day-to-day operations, which, depending on your view of the situation, either damns him or makes him utterly irreplaceable when it comes to the basic functions of the team. From operations to public image, Guenther Steiner is Haas, though from from the consumer's perspective, it's primarily the latter part that really matters. And unless Kevin Magnussen gets trotted out again to tell Nico Hulkenberg "Suck my balls, honey," in order to farm some teammate drama, it is the cult figure of Steiner that Haas will be scrambling to replace.
It's rare that a team principal can so completely overshadow the drivers on their team. The biggest organizational figures—Christian Horner, Helmut Marko, Toto Wolff, Mattia Binotto (may he rest safely outside of managing Ferrari)—are inevitably overshadowed by their racing stars, no matter how much they run their mouths. For Haas, it's Steiner who'll end up with the book sales and even some of his own official merchandising, which now show up in previews if you google, although it'll get you an appropriate 404 error if you click. Maybe you would wear the faces of Horner or Marko on a shirt, but you wouldn't exactly be happy about it.
Steiner was the protagonist of the Drive to Survive era of F1, and that'll be his longest-living legacy. He was tailor-made for it. There are some fun quirks in his biography, like how he is not German but instead hails from South Tyrol, an autonomous province of Italy that is majority German-speaking. He was in charge of a terrible team for much of his tenure, with the occasional very terrible driver, which meant that there were plenty of blowout moments for him to spend pacing in front of a camera, phone pressed to his ear. (This is speaking purely about the Drive to Survive era; Haas had a fifth-place finish in the 2018 season, which was never again repeated.) He also oversaw the brief bright moment of early 2022, providing himself some amount of redemption. Like many team principals and drivers in F1, Steiner lacks both the discretion and polished media training endemic in North American sports. He has a potty mouth. He is the guy for YouTube videos with selective capitalization. He is Guenther Steiner. He is no other.
So, let's remember some Guenther Steiner moments. Such as—wait, what would he have done to the whole paddock if they had two points in the 2021 season?
Here's him reaming out Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean in 2019, featuring the looming sword of Damocles that is Gene Haas. "Fuck" counter: 16. "Wank" counter: 1.
What were Steiner's 2021 thoughts regarding whether or not Nikita Mazepin is a pussy?
There's enough room for one last assessment on the qualities of Mazepin's character, again from 2021. (I must emphsaize that Haas had voluntarily signed on Mazepin and his daddy's money.)
Lastly, from 2018: a brief reflection upon everyone's character, that the astute reader can use to analyze the common vocabulary of the unique individual at hand: "Now we are fucking bunch of wankers. A bunch of fucking clowns here."
Words for life. Guenther Steiner, you will be missed.