Opinion | Guenther Steiner has come to believe too much in Guenther Steiner

Opinion | Guenther Steiner has come to believe too much in Guenther Steiner

16-04-2023 11:21 Last update: 13:08

Would James Vowles or Andrea Stella be recognised on the street? Probably not. For Guenther Steiner, team boss of the Haas team, it might be different. Thanks to the Netflix series Drive to Survive, the Italian has even become an international celebrity. Steiner is currently milking that fact expertly. For instance, a book will be published next week, in which he looks back on the past season. Pre-publications reveal that not everyone comes off equally well.

No, things didn't work out between Steiner and Mick Schumacher. Drive to Survive showed in recent years that Steiner could react in a cutting manner towards the German. The son of former World Champion Michael caused crashes that resulted in hefty costs. In the heat of the moment, it was quite understandable that Steiner would react quite abruptly in those situations. That the Netflix cameras eagerly recorded it all, the Italian had no mind for that.

The wrong picture

In the feerder series, Schumacher did show he was fast, although in Formula 2 and Formula 3 he always needed time to find his feet. Eventually in F1, partly due to Steiner's persistent grumbling and swearing, the perception had emerged that Schumacher really couldn't do anything. No doubt the continued criticism did not help Schumacher's self-confidence, who really could not do anything right by his team boss. By all accounts, it was no surprise that Haas parted ways with Schumacher after last season.

The German has found shelter with Mercedes, Steiner has two experienced drivers he is more than happy with. So the Schumacher chapter closed, you would think. Not so for Steiner. In his book Survive to Drive, the Italian finds it necessary to once again lash out hard at Schumacher. "It happened on the ****** in-lap! Sure, it was very wet out there on the track, but nobody else managed to write off a car while they were driving back to the pits," Steiner wrote.

Making more money?

Why anyway? With a driver he has already buried single-handedly, why does Steiner have to stomp on his grave as well? Is it perhaps because he knows that the outside world feasts on this? That Steiner thereby confirms and further solidifies his image? Is it perhaps Steiner's way of selling more books (and thus getting more dollars into his wallet)?

There was definitely plenty to like about the performances of Mick Schumacher, and earlier Nikita Mazepin. But does Steiner ever look in the mirror? Steiner has been at the helm of owner Gene Haas' F1 project since 2016. Looking back at the team's first seven, full seasons in Formula 1, the conclusion is justified that Haas have made little impression.

Hardly any progress

In 2018, the team finished fifth in the final constructors' standings, but apart from that they have underwhelmed. Sometimes they were even the laughing stock of the field, as in 2020 (3 points) and 2021 (0 points). Haas have never finished on the podium. The person ultimately responsible is Guenther Steiner. Indeed, the man who takes the measure of others but manages to make little to no progress himself with the US team.

It would do Steiner credit if he put his own hand in his pocket a bit more. At the moment, it seems the Italian prefers to beat around the bush rather than thoroughly analyse his own performances. It is typical of 'real' stars. These often lose sight of reality and need the adulation of the audience. Perhaps that happened with Guenther Steiner. Guenther Steiner started believing too much in Guenther Steiner.

This is an opinion article written by Ludo van Denderen for the Dutch edition of GP Blog.