Boardroom gets the latest from the Haas team principal about his unlikely fame, his new book, Logan Sargeant, and his standards for success in 2023.
As the mid-afternoon May sun seared inside Hard Rock Stadium, Haas team principal Guenther Steiner was headlong into a marathon day filled with media, team, and sponsor obligations leading into May 7’s Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix.
As an American-owned company, there was a lot more work to be done off the track than a normal race. American payments transfer company MoneyGram is the team’s title sponsor, and fellow sponsor Chipotle was on hand the previous day to shoot a commercial. These additional responsibilities further compressed Steiner’s time, making an already rigorous and demanding job even more so.
“I’ve been going since 8:00 this morning,” Steiner told Boardroom from Haas’ hospitality area. “I’ve needed extra coffee. A lot of it.”
The 58-year-old Italian-born exec is a major contributor to F1’s success in the US as a breakout star of the hit Netflix docuseries Drive To Survive, a show that proved to be an irresistible pandemic-era binge for getting a new generation of viewers hooked — especially in America. In November 2022 in Las Vegas during Boardroom’s previous interview with Steiner, fans on the ground looking up at our video shoot’s balcony location started chanting his name.
The show got Formula 1 and Haas a ton of exposure and new support given that it arrived, to hear Steiner tell it, at the right place at precisely the right time. The momentum it created helped F1 add US races in Miami and Las Vegas in addition to the United States Grand Prix in Austin, which had its best-ever attendance last year.
The only downside for Guenther?
“I get harassed a lot more on the streets now,” he said.
Somehow, Steiner even found time to publish a book called Surviving to Drive: A Year Inside Formula 1 that became a Sunday Times bestseller. He considers the book something for fans to enjoy who aren’t necessarily deeply invested in the wonkiest details of F1, giving them instead an inside look into what takes place behind the scenes in motorsports‘ most high-stakes, frenzied atmospheres.
“It’s a good beach read,” he said. “When you’re on holiday this year, this summer, it’s a good place to read it.”
As summer rolls in, Haas is hoping for a better season than its late spring run over the last three Grand Prix races in Miami, Monaco, and Barcelona where drivers Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hülkenberg have earned a combined total of just one point in the Constructors’ standings. Hülkenberg had spent the last three years as a reserve driver before replacing Mick Schumacher, adding much-needed experience at an organization Steiner calls the youngest in the paddock.
“Experience takes time, and what we don’t have is time,” he said. “Nico is very focused, very determined. He’s doing a fantastic job for us in a moment. And he and Kevin are pushing each other. I’m doing this to be competitive, and I have fun when we are competitive.”
After finishing No. 8 in the Constructors’ Championship standings last season, Haas is now tied for seventh heading into June 18’s Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal. Notably, that race will be the second in North America for rookie Logan Sargeant of Williams Racing, F1’s first American-born driver in nearly eight years.
Being a tenderfoot Formula 1 driver isn’t easy, Steiner said, having recently fielded a full team of two rookie drivers in 2021 in Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.
While the results haven’t shown up yet for Sargeant, Steiner said he’s been fast on the track and thinks he deserves fair recognition from the American audience and beyond.
“People should be aware that Logan is here and he’s doing a good job,” Steiner said of the Fort Lauderdale native.
With an American driver in the fold and three US-based Grand Prix events scheduled in 2023 for the very first time, Steiner believes Formula 1 needs to stabilize what it currently has in the States before thinking about further expansion of any kind. Three to four years ago, he pointed out, the Austin race wasn’t on the calendar at all because of COVID; F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali told Boardroom that he wasn’t previously sure there was a long-term future at the Circuit of the Americas until the ever-growing crowds proved him wrong.
Sometimes, as one of F1’s hottest commodities cooly points out in the blazing Miami heat, slow and steady is the right approach for the world’s fastest sport.
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