Out of nowhere, one of Formula One’s most famous faces has been dumped from the sport. Former Haas team principal Guenther Steiner has departed the outfit “with immediate effect”, leaving more questions than answers.
Though having spent the best part of just over a couple of decades in the sport, starting with Jaguar way back in 2001, Steiner shot to unexpected fame in the last couple of years for his sweary and blunt antics in Netflix’s fly-on-the-wall Drive To Survive series - who can forget “we look like a bunch of f**king w**kers”? The Austrian even managed to publish a book to a degree of success, aptly titled Surviving To Drive.
With the F1 season due to kick off in March, it’d take a real shock for Steiner to find himself in a role within another team anytime soon. We’ll be pouring one out for the Netflix producers.
On the face of things, it’d be a strange move for Haas to ditch one of the sport’s most popular figures so abruptly, but it’d be fair to say recent results have been underwhelming. In 2023, the team finished dead last in the constructor’s championship with just 12 points - a far cry from its fifth-placed finish in 2018.
Taking over the reigns as team principal at Gene Haas’ expensive marketing tool for his CNC machinery equipment Ayao Komatsu, who first joined the organisation for its debut season in 2016 as a race engineer.
Komatsu said: “I’m naturally very excited to have the opportunity to be Team Principal at [Haas]. Having been with the team since its track debut back in 2016 I’m obviously passionately invested in its success in Formula One.
“I’m looking forward to leading our program and the various competitive operations internally to ensure we can build a structure that produces improved on-track performances.”
Haas himself added: “Moving forward as an organization it was clear we need to improve our on-track performances. In appointing Ayao Komatsu as Team Principal we fundamentally have engineering at the heart of our management.”
He did mention he was “extending my thanks to Guenther Steiner”, but the obvious absence of any quotes from Steiner within Haas’ press release or public comments would suggest the decision for his departure was not of his choosing.