Haas on Guenther Steiner firing: ‘It came down to performance’

A day after parting ways with team principal Guenther Steiner, Haas Formula 1 team owner Gene Haas said the decision “came down to performance.”

Steiner had spent the past eight years with Haas, which entered the F1 grid in 2014. After finishing as high as fifth in the constructors standings in 2016, Haas placed last two of the past three years. That includes 2023, when its two cars suffered from tire degradation on race days.

“Here we are in our eighth year, over 160 races. We have never had a podium. The last couple of years, we’ve been 10th or ninth,” Haas told Formula1.com.

“I’m not sitting here saying it’s Guenther’s fault, or anything like that, but it just seems like this was an appropriate time to make a change and try a different direction, because it doesn’t seem like continuing with what we had is really going to work.”

Steiner, a staple of Netflix’s “Drive to Survive” docuseries, has been replaced by Ayao Komatsu, the North Carolina-based team’s director of engineering. Additionally, technical director Simone Resta has left the team ahead of the 2024 season, according to a report by Motorsport.com.

“My biggest concern is when we go to Bahrain, we need to show up with a car that is ready to go,” Haas said of preseason testing that runs Feb. 21-23. “Maybe having more of a managerial-type and engineering approach, we’ll see if that has benefits.

“I think Guenther had more of a human-type approach to everything with people and the way he interacted with people, he was very good at that.

“Ayao is very technical, he looks at things based on statistics — this is what we’re doing bad, where can we do better. It’s a different approach.”

Steiner, 58, had been in charge of the Haas team since 2016. According to F1, only Red Bull’s Christian Horner and Mercedes’ Toto Wolff have served longer stints as a team principal.

Nico Hulkenberg finished 16th in the drivers standings with nine points last year, while Haas teammate Kevin Magnussen managed only three in finishing 19th out of 22 drivers who raced during the season.

“I have no interest in being 10th anymore,” Haas said. “We really do need something different because we weren’t really doing that well. Like I said, it all comes down to eight years in, dead last. Nothing more I can say on that.”