Guenther Steiner and Gene Haas backroom bust-up leads to bitter sack with notable absence in team statement

Gene Haas made a long statement following the sacking of team principal Guenther Steiner, but didn’t allow any riposte from the former boss, adding a further layer to what was an abrupt ending to their association.

Sending out a press release on Wednesday, Haas confirmed its decision to sack Steiner with the view that the team needed a new style of leadership after suffering some disappointing seasons under the management of the Italian-American boss.

Gene Haas and Guenther Steiner. Credit: planetsports.com
Gene Haas and Guenther Steiner. Credit: planetsports.com

Last season’s 10th-place finish was enough evidence for Gene Haas to call time on Steiner’s reign as team principal, with Ayao Komatsu being promoted to this position with immediate effect.

Despite having options such as Mattia Binotto, Otmar Szafnauer and Jost Capito, Gene Haas felt it was best to opt for internal promotion as Komatsu has a good understanding of the dynamics within the team.

Both Gene Haas and Komatsu had quotes in the press release, but it was rather strange to see no words from the outgoing team principal Guenther Steiner.

While Haas did include Steiner in just one sentence, Komatsu didn’t talk about him at all. It is rather strange given the fact that Steiner had led the team for over a decade and perhaps more respect should have been paid to him.

Usually, when an axed team principal’s statement is not included in a press release or statement, it is an indicator of the fact that the decision to terminate the contract was not by mutual consent.

Haas himself said that while he doesn’t pin all the blame on Steiner for the team’s recent run of results, “you should ask Steiner what went wrong”.

This will undoubtedly be a difficult period for Steiner, who publicly spoke about how he treated the project at Haas as ‘his baby’. It is fair to say that he rightfully did, given he has been at the forefront of the team for a decade and was the one who conceived the idea of how the team should operate in the first place back in 2016.

However, there is no denying the fact that Haas has simply not been good enough in recent years and although they have operated on a shoe-string budget, they have shown little to no improvement.

“We have had some successes, but we need to be consistent in delivering results that help us reach our wider goals as an organization,” Gene Haas said.

Why did Gene Haas sack Guenther Steiner so abruptly?

With Gene Haas bankrolling the team on his own money, it is obvious that he would expect a better return on his investment. Haas has finished last in two of the last three seasons and there seemed little to suggest that the upcoming campaign would pan out any differently.

While Gene Haas was funding the team himself, he reiterated that his main purpose was not to grow its brand value and look to cash in, rather he wants to stay in the sport for years to come. However, Steiner always seemed to have a problem with the lack of resources at his disposal.

It may well be a case of a heated debate between Gene Haas and Guenther Steiner leading to the current situation and it is certainly not the first time such a thing has happened in the sport. Last season itself we saw the example of Otmar Szafnauer being shown the door after making requests from Alpine.

Given that Steiner has been so closely associated to the project at Haas, it is highly likely that a backroom bust-up between the team owner and principal led to this abrupt sacking.

Read more: Gene Haas makes crushing revelation over abrupt Guenther Steiner sack – “You have to ask him what went wrong”

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