Haas stronger without Steiner: ‘Created an uncomfortable situation’

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Haas stronger without Steiner: 'Created an uncomfortable situation'

Haas made its debut in Formula 1 in 2016, and was led for eight years by the eccentric and outspoken Günther Steiner. The South Tyrolean was told at the beginning of this year that his contract would not be extended, and the vacant position was filled internally by Ayao Komatsu. Since then, Haas seems to have taken a step forward, notes former world champion Damon Hill.

Haas took off in 2016: Romain Grosjean finished sixth in the debut race in Australia, and one race later the Swiss-born driver defeated a young Max Verstappen, then still driving for Toro Rosso, in the battle for fifth place. The American team’s highlight followed in 2018, with a fifth place among the constructors, but things have gone downhill since then. In the past five seasons, Haas finished eighth once, ninth and penultimate twice, and bottom twice.

Haas did score twelve more points in 2023, but after the team once again finished the season at the bottom, team owner Gene Haas had had enough. Dissatisfied with the lack of investment, Steiner’s contract was not renewed, and the Italian was replaced by engineer Komatsu. Since the Japanese has been at the helm, the problems with tire wear have suddenly been solved, Hill notes on the F1 Nation podcast. Nico Hülkenberg took a first point for the team in Saudi Arabia, while both drivers scored in Australia.

Uncomfortable situation with Steiner

Steiner is now active as an expert on television and worked with Hill in Melbourne. “It was quite an awkward situation for us, because we were working with Channel 10 in Australia, and we had Günther Steiner with us,” laughs Hill, who found it difficult to explain, with Steiner next to him, what made Haas stronger is. “They’ve made some big strides since he left, and I’m sure he’s happy with that.”

‘The point is: what are they doing now that they didn’t do when Günther worked there? They seem to have a completely different approach,” says the Brit. ‘Ayao Komatsu already said in the tests that they would do long runs to find out what they were doing wrong with the tyres. That seems to be producing results, because now they are getting points.’

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