“Didn’t go down well with Gene”: David Croft, Damon Hill decrypt root cause for Guenther Steiner exit

Sky F1 pundit David Croft is certain that the reason behind Gene Haas dismissing long-term team principal Guenther Steiner boils down to jealousy between the duo.

As far as Croft is concerned, it was difficult for Gene to contend with the fact that Steiner “was getting the lion’s share of the attention” ever since his popularity surged among F1 fans due to his no-nonsense personality seen on the Netflix series Drive to Survive.

Guenther Steiner. Credit: autosport.com
Guenther Steiner. Credit: autosport.com

Haas announced that Steiner would no longer be leading the team in a statement on Wednesday, with Ayao Komatsu being promoted to the role in his stead.

With Haas operating on one of the smallest budgets in the sport, their performances on the track were just not up to scratch, as the American team found itself in last place in two of the previous three campaigns.

This is the main reason that Gene Haas alluded to in the team’s statement, but it was perplexing to see that the comments of Steiner were not included at all. Given that he has been at the team ever since its entry in F1 almost a decade ago, it can be seen as a clear lack of respect to the former Italian-American boss.

However, such instances usually occur when a contract has not been ended through mutual termination and this is likely to have been the case in this instance as well.

Steiner has kept his silence till now, but that is unlikely to last long, with an appearance on Saturday set to unveil the true reasons behind his abrupt exit.

What did Croft say about Steiner’s abrupt exit?

Croft, though, believes the primary reason behind the sacking was not the team’s results on the track.

“Firstly, it’s Gene Haas’ team, and Guenther Steiner was getting the lion’s share of the attention and I’m sure that didn’t go down hugely well with the team owner,” Croft said.

“But that’s no reason to get rid of somebody. Their performance on track last year might have been part of the picture as well. 

“Great on a Saturday in terms of the way that Nico Hulkenberg, for instance, managed to get into the top 10 in qualifying.”

Fellow pundit Damon Hill was quick to give his own verdict.

“Guenther became a bit of a celebrity thanks to the the famous Netflix series [Drive to Survive] and the behind the scenes filming of him and he is absolutely a kind of huge character,” Hill said.

“Very decisive, very confident and very sure of what he’s saying. Maybe this is part of the mix, he wants to win. 

“I don’t know what the real reason is for the departure, but it’s a big loss to the sport because fans liked him, he attracted people. He was controversial, he was outspoken – maybe he didn’t get the results that Gene Haas wanted.”

Read more: Guenther Steiner predicted exit months before Gene Haas pulled plug on team principal’s contract

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