Haas Motorsports has fired its former Formula 1 team principal Guenther Steiner. While this is a very sensible decision for Haas as a racing organization looking to succeed in F1 (and after the team finished in last place in the 2023 Constructor’s Cup, it’s probably coming a little late), it’s a devastating blow to fans of Netflix’s Drive to Survive.
While arguably one of least successful team principals in recent memory, Steiner was a godsend for the reality show producers at Box to Box. He’s an absolute character, a true weirdo in ways only European sports can produce. He’s brash, loud, opinionated, full of odd sayings and bizarre jokes, and he seemingly got along great with everyone. (Except, occasionally, his drivers.)
In other words, everything about him is pitch-perfect for a reality series, especially one trying to get off the ground. Even better, he was working for one of the lowest-ranked teams in the sport, so he had nothing to lose by allowing cameras into his paddock and behind the scenes for tons of access.
For most of Drive to Survive’s five seasons, Steiner has essentially remained the show’s main character. Sure, the show has way more access to the rest of the teams now than it did before, with even the top teams lining up to get their shot on camera, but there’s still no character quite like Guenther.
Steiner was also a fantastic entry point into the sport. A careful, eccentric explainer of racing, Steiner has a talent in his talking-head shorts for helping viewers learn more about racing without even realizing it. On top of that, his incredible Northern Italian dad energy provides a nice respite from the young-buck confidence of all of the drivers.
The only problem with all of this is that he wasn’t helping Haas score any points. He became a reality star, but that wasn’t translating to results on the track, which meant his days with Haas were numbered. Steiner will be replaced by Ayao Komatsu, who has been Haas’ trackside engineer since 2016, and has also appeared often on Drive to Survive.
The good news for Drive to Survive fans is that even though Guenther is one of a kind, there’s never a shortage of characters involved in Formula 1. We’ll just have to wait for two seasons from now to find out who, as the upcoming season — likely arriving sometime in February or March — will follow his final year as Haas’s team principal.