Motor racing-Steiner not surprised by Haas’s scoring start to F1 season

By Thomson Reuters Mar 27, 2024 | 1:03 PM

By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) – Former Haas boss Guenther Steiner said he was not surprised by the team’s stronger than expected start to the Formula One season and suggested they had deliberately talked down their prospects.

New principal Ayao Komatsu warned before the Bahrain season-opener on March 2 that U.S.-owned Haas, who finished last of the 10 teams overall in 2023, were likely to be running near the back of the field initially.

Kevin Magnussen was 12th in that race before team mate Nico Hulkenberg finished 10th in Saudi Arabia. Both drivers were then in the points with ninth and 10th places in Australia last Sunday.

“The team and (former technical director) Simone Resta, they did a good job because the car was done last year. It was done before I left,” Steiner told a video call on Wednesday after being announced as an ambassador for May’s Miami Grand Prix.

“The car was finished, it was in assembly already,” added the Italian, who was replaced by Komatsu in January.

“I actually had it right, where they ended up to be, because I knew the numbers from the wind tunnel where the team should end up.

“I think at the beginning they played it down to have an excuse for it to start off with, and then it was better than they expected. That is for me wrong to do.”

Steiner, who was back in the paddock in Melbourne and conducted the interviews with the top three race finishers, said he was happy for the Ferrari-powered team and had no bad feelings.

“I know the technical people in Italy they did a good job last year, they worked very hard to produce the car that’s running now. Only time will tell what’s happening in the future,” he said.

Steiner has also worked with Formula One television after becoming something of an unlikely cult hero through his blunt, often expletive-laden appearances on the Netflix docu-series ‘Drive to Survive’.

The Italian assured fans of the series that he would still be a continuing presence.

“I’m working with them (Netflix), how much they (use) I never know,” he said. “Maybe now I’m the most boring guy ever and they don’t bring anything. They are still filming, they did quite a lot with me, my new jobs.

“They will keep on filming but I don’t know how much it will make (onto the screen).”

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)