In the aftermath of Gunther Steiner’s departure from Haas F1 Team, Ralf Schumacher, a former critic of Steiner’s management, has suggested Otmar Szafnauer as a potential asset for the American team. Schumacher, who was notably critical of Steiner’s handling of Mick Schumacher’s tenure at Haas, expressed regret over Steiner’s exit from F1, recognizing him as a unique personality in the sport. Speaking to formel1.de, Schumacher said, “Because another character, a real brand, disappears from F1. But maybe it was time for a new person to fill that position. Only time will tell. It was good that he drew attention to the team and the sponsors, but I think Gene Haas was too embarrassed that his team was always behind.”
Gene Haas, the team owner, has opted to promote from within, appointing former engineering chief Ayao Komatsu as the new team principal. However, Schumacher questions why established names like ex-Ferrari chief Mattia Binotto were overlooked. Komatsu, in an interview with as-web.jp, shed light on the decision: “Gene came to the conclusion that it had to be someone from within the team who understood the current situation.”
Komatsu also expressed support for hiring a new chief operating officer, a role currently being advertised. Ralf Schumacher, meanwhile, sees Szafnauer, recently involved in management upheaval at Alpine, as a fitting candidate for Haas. “Otmar is well known in F1, he also has technical expertise, and the fact that he looks for good people, sometimes at universities, also speaks in his favour,” Schumacher stated, highlighting Szafnauer’s experience and approach to team management.
Schumacher also compared Szafnauer favorably against Binotto, whom he perceives as more aligned with Audi now. He noted Szafnauer’s familiarity with smaller organizations, a key factor for a team like Haas. “Otmar knows small organisations much better and can achieve a lot out of them. What would be the point of bringing in someone at Haas who previously managed 1000 people?” Schumacher concluded, underscoring the challenges Binotto might face in a smaller team setup like Haas.