When a driver or team reigns supreme in Formula 1, questions arise about how to level the playing field. However, not everyone is eager to see special measures put in place to slow down the dominant force. Gunther Steiner, the team principal of the American outfit Haas, is one such voice.
As the boss of Haas, a team positioned at the opposite end of the grid to Red Bull Racing, Steiner’s perspective offers a unique insight into the challenges faced by teams that aren’t contending for the championship.
“At the beginning of the season, it looked like it was going to be a good season for us,” Steiner reflected. “Five months later, we thought it was going to be a sh*t season. We just couldn’t find any speed in the car. When we realized that, it was already too late.”
Taking responsibility for their struggles, Steiner admitted, “That’s our fault, it’s that simple. We didn’t realize in time that something was wrong.” Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg has recently voiced criticism about the team’s stalled development curve in 2023, and Steiner doesn’t hide his discontent either. “I’m not happy either,” he asserted. “You can’t be happy with tenth place.”
With Haas firmly rooted at the bottom of the standings, Steiner believes that his team shouldn’t be involved in discussions about implementing measures to challenge Red Bull’s dominance.
“We have other goals,” he emphasized. “We want to get back into the midfield. Our goal is not to beat Max Verstappen.”
Steiner’s perspective raises a broader question about the nature of competition in Formula 1. “It is more of a general question whether it is good for the sport that someone dominates so much,” he pondered. “And I think that the others have to improve.”
While some believe that Formula 1 and the FIA should intervene to ensure a more competitive field, Steiner takes a different stance. “You can never blame the winner for being too good,” he asserted firmly. “I firmly believe in that – if someone else does better than you do, don’t blame him for being so good. You can’t do anything wrong to Max; instead, you have to make sure you improve yourself.”
Steiner reminds us that many teams have similar resources, infrastructure, and personnel to Red Bull. “Obviously, we are not on that list, but there are some teams that should be able to do it. It is not the case that this dominance will continue indefinitely.”