Guenther Steiner: I’m not sure about Christian Horner’s job – but I’ll be back in F1

Guenther Steiner
Guenther Steiner is mobbed in Melbourne - Joel Carrett/Shutterstock

They were charging $600 (£310) for some of the tickets to ‘An Evening with Guenther Steiner’ at the Melbourne Arts Centre this week.

Admittedly, for that kind of dosh, you got a post-show meet & greet with the man, not to mention “a signed copy of Steiner’s book Surviving to Drive, a VIP tour lanyard, plus canapes and beverages”. Still, the eye-watering cost was another sobering reminder of the power of Netflix’s smash-hit Drive to Survive series, which made Steiner such an unlikely star.

Four months on from being ‘let go’ by American team Haas, the moustachioed former team principal with the famously potty mouth remains a huge draw.

Steiner smiles. He insists he does not take his popularity for granted, adding he is well aware there are many out there who find the monster Netflix created tiresome. “I’m not a person that, how do you say it, everybody likes,” he admits. “Which I’m OK about. You can’t be liked by everybody. It’s either-or with me. But there is obviously a crowd out there that does like my presence…”

He is not wrong about that. Steiner, who is in Melbourne working for Channel 10, cannot walk 10 yards in Albert Park without getting stopped by fans wanting selfies or autographs. Unsurprisingly, given his profile, it did not take long for broadcasters to beat a path to his door. The 58-year-old agreed a seven-race deal with RTL at the start of the season. “If they’d asked me to do 24 races it would have been a straight no,” he says. “But seven races I can take.” He is also a columnist on

Guenther Steiner
Steiner's potty mouth on Netflix has earned him a legion of fans - Qian Jun/Getty Images

It is not hard to imagine him making a permanent move into the media. Indeed, he remarks himself how much he is enjoying his new schedule. “You just go away for four days and then go back home,” he says in his distinctive South Tyrolean twang. “F------ hell! Easy!”

‘I’m not going to shop myself around’

But nor is he ruling out a return to the grid. “I’m very open-minded,” he says. “I said that in the beginning. I just see what is out there. You know, I speak with a lot of people, I still have a lot of friends. Obviously, I’m not involved operationally [at Haas any more], but just people call me up and have a chat and things like this. But I’m in no hurry. I’m not going out to shop myself around. But if people ask, and then you look at it and say yes or no and talk with them.”

It will be interesting to see whether Steiner does find a route back in. For all that he is a pantomime character on Netflix, there are those who feel he did a pretty decent job on a very limited budget at Haas, a team he set up himself 10 years ago and for which he went out and found funding.

In the end, he had a “difference of opinion” with team owner Gene Haas over how best to proceed. He wanted more investment, basically, to move to the next level. “Gene’s idea was to keep on going how we were going”.

It begs the question: how would Steiner do if given the keys to Ferrari or Red Bull or Mercedes? A real heavyweight team with a massive budget and infrastructure? Is he like Sam Allardyce, who famously said, circa 2010: “I’m not suited to Bolton or Blackburn, I would be more suited to Internazionale or Real Madrid”?

After all, I joke, Red Bull might be looking for a new team principal soon given the circus that has surrounded Christian Horner. He is used to crisis management and speaks German fluently. “Ha ha, I don’t think so,” Steiner responds, laughing. “F------ hell, can you imagine?”

But he defends his management record. “It’s easy to say: ‘Yeah, I could do it.’ But that is yet to be proven. Do I believe I could do it? Yes. But it’s a very competitive environment.”

What he is sure about is that he was working with his hands tied behind his back at Haas. He now says he stayed “too long”. “At some stage you realise ‘I cannot get there’ because it’s like, you know, you are at a traffic light and you’re there with, I don’t know, a Skoda… and there is a Ferrari beside you. Can I get quicker off at the start? I don’t think so, buddy. It’s never going to happen.”

‘The respect is there’

Steiner says he draws consolation from the fact that his fellow team principals – some of them anyway – appreciated what he was able to conjure from limited resources. “After [he lost his job] a few of them sent me texts saying: ‘Hey, you did a good job. You couldn’t have done more. It wasn’t in your hands any more.’ I got a few messages. A few called me up. So I think the respect is there.”

For now, Steiner says he is happy to get off the “F1 hamster wheel” for a bit. He enjoyed spending more time at home over the winter with his wife Gertraud and daughter Greta. They live on Lake Norman in North Carolina with a load of Nascar drivers, having moved Stateside when he went over the Pond to set up Red Bull’s entry into the series in 2006. “A little bit of time away gives you some perspective,” he notes.

One thing is clear. Like him or loathe him, Steiner is likely to remain a fixture in F1 for a while yet, whether that is back in a team environment or on our screens. Perhaps, I suggest, he should simply focus on segueing into the entertainment industry? Has he considered Hollywood? “Ha!” he laughs. “Maybe I should ask Arnold [Schwarzenegger] if we can do something together? We do have a similar accent, although I always say his is slightly worse”.

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