Steiner exit could open door for Andretti

Mon, 15 January 2024, 07:00

Jan.15 (GMM) Gunther Steiner’s axing at Haas has triggered speculation Andretti-Cadillac may acquire the embattled American Formula 1 team.

“Is Gene Haas fed up with F1?” reads the headline at Italy’s Autosprint.

Steiner was told by the team’s billionaire owner between Christmas and New Year that his contract was not being extended, after Haas finished dead last in 2023.

The team also appears to be the only one in pitlane without an engine deal for the new regulations in 2026, as Haas and Ferrari potentially re-evaluate their technical partnership.

As the Steiner news broke, Ferrari figure Simone Resta was said to also be in the process of departing Haas.

“Is Haas a takeover candidate now?” wonders Michael Schmidt, the top journalist at Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport. “This could be a chance for Andretti to join F1 in 2025.”

Schmidt thinks the low-profile Gene Haas and Steiner fell out over their differing visions for the medium-term future, with the team owner sticking with the existing structure and the axed boss arguing for more funding.

Steiner’s successor is long-time Haas engineer Ayao Komatsu.

“What happens if Haas can’t turn things around?” Schmidt wonders. “At the moment, Gene Haas could achieve a sale price for his team that would recoup his investments.”

Regular Haas critic Ralf Schumacher, however, thinks the team now has a chance to improve in Steiner’s absence.

“The fish always rots from the head,” former Haas driver Mick Schumacher’s uncle told Auto Bild.

Top Red Bull consultant Dr Helmut Marko believes Steiner’s downfall is linked with his soaring popularity as a result of the Netflix series Drive to Survive.

“Anyone who becomes too popular through something like Netflix can fly high and then fall very quickly,” he told f1-insider.com.

“All I heard is that he wanted to convert his popularity into shares in the team. And owner Gene Haas didn’t like that idea. It is always the case in our sport that the team comes before the individual.

“Steiner became a victim of his popularity.”

Former Alpha Tauri boss Franz Tost added: “The pressure in Formula 1 is brutal. If mid-season development of a car doesn’t work, there will be someone to blame.”

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