By Andreas Reiners
Munich – Günther Steiner cemented his legendary status with a heartfelt tirade.
He used the foul F-word nine times in just 30 seconds. That time he folded drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen together after a crash.
It wasn’t the first time the Haas team boss had verbally pulled the strings in the Netflix documentary Drive to Survive, but the moment in season two is now as iconic as the South Tyrolean himself.
Because Mick Schumacher’s boss is, thanks to Netflix, the (not so) secret superstar of Formula 1. Steiner is authentic, honest, direct and very idiosyncratic – a true original. His South Tyrolean accent allows him to get away with some things when he offends with his wild nature. He is a rarity in the Formula 1 billionaire circus. A kind of alternative to the very polished PS product. One you can touch and it does exactly what Formula 1 wasn’t for a long time – until Netflix came along.
Günther Steiner: “A bunch of Wi*****!”
Also legendary: After a pit stop debacle in Australia in 2018, Steiner told Haas owner Gene Haas: “We could have been rock stars, but now we look like a bunch of w***** !”
There is such a cult around the South Tyrolean, who attracts and attracts a wide audience with his outbursts of anger, rude statements and his open nature.
At the Austin race, he was no longer able to run around town undetected. He was even taken by the police. “But they just wanted to take a picture! And I started running! No, I’m kidding, but it’s very popular here at the moment,” he revealed. However, fans have not come close to his quotes from the Netflix series. Fortunately, “they all start with an F anyway, so I’d better not repeat them!”
What is essentially missing are the marriage proposals, which Steiner has yet to receive. “And I don’t know how my wife feels about that. Maybe she’ll feel good about getting rid of me. You never know,” Steiner joked. The introduction is nice for him, it’s even better for Formula 1.” We always have to think about everyone. That’s what keeps the boat moving – it’s the people, the fans. If we only drive for ourselves, we won’t make it too far,” says Steiner.
Günther Steiner represents the old school
However, if you have to work with him, he can do things differently.
Because in his relationships, in his management style, the 57-year-old represents the old school, choosing the authoritarian style. Open and honest, sometimes too honest, harsh, ruthless. What viewers find authentic and funny can sometimes be painful and exhausting for pilots.
There will be drivers who need just that to perform or who just don’t care. Kevin Magnussen is one of those guys. But there are also more sensitive pilots who can handle criticism from within but don’t take it well to the outside world.
A few weeks ago, Mick’s uncle Ralf Schumacher called him outdated and remembered his former team boss Frank Williams. “Frank wanted to incite conflict instead of spreading team spirit and harmony,” Schumacher explained to “F1 Insider.” “He was of the opinion that drivers perform better when they hate each other. Like Steiner, he also spoke first to the press, to whom he gave information to put pressure on the drivers.” He points out that he and his teammates would have performed even better if there was more cohesion. “Because all mind games consume energy unnecessarily,” said Ralf Schumacher.
There are a number of approaches to providing human support for the Haas situation. Steiner has decided to stay true to himself, he will not bend. It means: He remains direct, authoritative, brusque, but also honest. But is this still up to date? More importantly, is it the right way for Schumacher?
Mick Schumacher: Pressure again and again
“I think Mick has even more potential. It’s part of the game that things get uncomfortable when you want to expose him. But what kind of team boss would I be if I didn’t push my driver?” Steiner explained some of his style. the week before.
There is also verbal prodding. And public.
Therefore, Steiner does not mince his words in interviews. He repeatedly criticized Mick Schumacher publicly, delivered side kicks and added pressure. Whether Schumacher also or especially motivated and directed this type of leadership remains at least debatable. The fact is: he hasn’t scored a single point since the summer, he still hasn’t secured his cockpit and Haas is his last option for a premier class future.
Schumacher is surprisingly calm about it, and whether he would have been more successful with a different style is possible but hypothetical. The example of Daniel Ricciardo, who this season is completely beside himself and has to leave McLaren at the end of the season, shows that things can be done differently. Team boss Andreas Seidl let it be factual rather than controversial.
Not Netflix, but Formula 1
Haas’ current drivers would do a good job and he believes Haas would do well to stick to both, Ralf Schumacher recently clarified and recommended Steiner’s self-criticism: “This is not Netflix, this is Formula 1 “.
In Brazil, Steiner once again defended himself against his critics, who come mainly from Germany. People have been asking about Schumacher’s future for months and Steiner is now somewhere between amusement and annoyance. “I think we can drop the subject quickly,” Steiner said. “Hopefully we can announce something next week. But there’s no point in continuing to ask me what percentage is for the driver and how much for another… Those are questions I’m not going to answer. I’m sorry.” The decision is “close, but I’m too busy.”
Props to Schumacher: Another high-pressure race weekend. “For racing drivers, it’s part of the job to deal with the pressure. Of course it would be easier for all of us if we had already decided after Bahrain what to do next year. But that’s not the case,” said Steiner: “That’s how it is in life, there is no good time and no bad time to make such decisions”.
A reporter wanted to know why it was taking so long. Steiner smiled, “Because I’m a slow thinker!”
Schumacher should not look funny. Netflix viewers do. After all, Steiner has legendary status there.
Want the most important motorsport news, videos and data straight to your smartphone? Then get the new app running with push notifications for the most important news in your favorite sport. Available on the App Store for Apple and Android.