Haas ousts Steiner, and it does so without mincing words. The F1 team’s American owner expresses gratitude to Gunther Steiner for his work over the past eight years while, at the same time, essentially deems his efforts inadequate. The communication may lack delicacy, but a blunt truth is often preferable to superficial words. In essence, Gene argues that to bring about real growth, the fate of the team should be entrusted to others.
Public opinion seems divided on this matter. Some have labeled Gunther Steiner as one of the worst team principals in F1 history. A likable figure in front of the media, always very approachable, lauded thanks to the “Drive to Survive” series, but incapable of managing a racing team. On the contrary, others argue that the South Tyrolean has done a commendable job, significantly contributing to the team’s commercial growth. He even saved the team from bankruptcy during the Covid-19 pandemic that struck the entire world.
Certainly, judging a professional’s work is never easy, especially without knowledge of the set goals. Haas has made one thing clear: having an outstanding power unit like Ferrari’s and finishing last is unacceptable. The criticism is valid, and it’s hard to disagree. The entrepreneur from Youngstown, Ohio, states that aerodynamics have not worked properly in recent years, essentially pinpointing the decision to follow Ferrari’s technical projects as the cause of the poor performance.
The truth is not far from this reasoning. Therefore, using Gunther Steiner as a scapegoat when evidently everyone agreed to “trace” the design ideas of the Scuderia, perhaps does not seem entirely fair. Ours are just conjectures—a hypothetical field on which to develop one’s opinion. But what really matters at this moment concerns the decisions made for the near future, necessary to take a step upward, considering that a new regulatory framework will arrive in two years.
F1, Haas: Technical Leadership Departing from Ferrari’s Connections
During the last few seasons, a certain trend seems to have emerged in Formula 1. We refer to the desire to place individuals with an engineering background in the role of team principal. Examples? Andrea Stella and James Vowles, respectively in McLaren and Williams. Following Steiner’s departure, the “natural” replacement goes by the name of Ayao Komatsu. The Japanese has been with the team since 2016, always at the center of technical operations. Who better than him could take on this role? The goal is to bring his knowledge to the forefront to decidedly change course.
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Gunther Steiner’s “human” approach was no longer needed. Knowing how to interact with people is essential on a communicative level, but so is Komatsu’s technical approach, which will be placed as the focal point around which the entire team must revolve. It’s also true, however, that teams like Mercedes and Red Bull have figures like Horner and Wolff at the helm, far from technical experts. A distinction should, therefore, be made. Regarding Ferrari, for example, the move to dismiss Maurizio Arrivabene and replace him with Mattia Binotto did not work at all.
On the contrary, Mattia Binotto‘s leadership has sprung leaks from all sides, especially on a communicative level. For this reason, it seems complicated at this moment to understand if the move conceived by Haas will be the right one. Certainly, changing the leader of a team with a profile like Komatsu’s means giving a strong organizational signal. A completely different approach. A way of thinking and operating that will start from well-defined parameters.
The aspiration aims to strengthen the team through the extensive technical knowledge of the Japanese, who, at the same time, must be very good at the psychological management of the drivers. Ultimately, another conjecture. Although Haas has emphasized enthusiasm in collaborating closely with the Prancing Horse, it is evident that distancing itself from Ferrari’s technical dictates is one of the prerogatives of the new leadership. All to achieve its own identity and not depend on the fortunes of others.
In this regard, the move seems quite apt because, to avoid being just a “mere appearance,” an F1 team must categorically be able to propose ideas. It remains to be seen if Ayao Komatsu will be the right person to make the grand restructuring plan effective, as Gene, as he himself stated to the press, was quite tired of seeing his creations at the bottom of the championship standings.
Source: Alessandro Arcari for FUnoanalisitecnica