Formula 1, Guenther Steiner from the Grand Prix to the star of the web: «The degree? I’ve never missed it “

Steiner won fans over with his genuine expressiveness

Google Search: Guenther Steiner. After heritage, the search engine suggests looking for also speak Italian. Although at the head of a Formula One team in the United States, where he lives, Steiner was born in South Tyrol: perhaps his particular accent also contributed to making him one of the most beloved protagonists of the Netflix series Drive to Survive, which tells the joys and sorrows of the Formula One circus. The main credit goes to the creative swearing in English (topping the results on YouTube) for the team’s misfortunes, inimitable facial expressions and disarming bluntness. Memes are not counted on social networks (the ironic photos of his reactions on the track), not to mention the sites that offer T-shirts with his face on the most famous insults hurled in front of the cameras. A light side that is not expected from a great racing professional, appreciated for the tenacity in the hard times – many in the past seasons – of the Haas team. And that in the last few races he returned to smile, thanks to the new car and Kevin Magnussen’s return to the wheel in place of the Russian Nikita Mazepin (sacked after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine).

Guenther Steiner, from Merano at the top of motor racing, without being a child of art. How did it happen?
I’ve always had a passion for cars, that’s the key. Then, the luck of being in the right place at the right time. When I was young I didn’t have the plan to get here, I always tried to do my job well and I believed in my abilities. And the same with the adventure of the Haas team: it occurred to me to make an American team, I didn’t have the money and I looked for investors. I said to myself: if it works well, the world won’t fall. You have to be brave.

His parents had a completely different profession from his.
Racing cars didn’t have much to do with our family. Mine were people who worked, they were butchers in Merano: my dad didn’t mind cars, but he didn’t have the passion. When I was a child he took me to see the Trento-Bondone rally, one of the few races in Trentino Alto Adige. I asked to accompany me there, always. The first time I was 12.

You don’t have a degree, in a world of engineers.
I studied engineering, I did not complete the course but I never missed it: this is because I have never applied for a job; they always offered it to me (laughs, ed). For I always say to the boys: “Don’t be like me, study!”.

Would a young mechanic like you were today have any career opportunities?
Today, as then, if a good one can do it: even in my time it was difficult. I have been making racing cars for 36 years: my first job was with the Mazda rally team in 1986. I was delighted where I was and I didn’t look for Formula One, I didn’t have any obsessions in that sense. Then I took an opportunity.

came the call of Niki Lauda.
One day the phone rings. It was his secretary: “Mr. Lauda would like to talk to you”, and he passes it to me. “They spoke well to me about you in Ford (where Steiner worked, ed), would you like to do a job?”, Lauda tells me and makes me meet in Vienna for dinner. I was expecting a meeting of 20 minutes, her patience did not last long: and instead we talked for two hours. The next day at 8 in the morning she calls me back: “Thank you for your patience, Mr. Steiner, you will come to work with me”. “What to do?”, I ask him. And he: “I still don’t know”. Since that time he has started calling me every week.

Lauda took her with him to the Jaguar team in Formula One.
S. Lauda I have learned to respect him, we have always kept in touch. About once a month we met. He was much more than a pilot, he was a visionary entrepreneur. He had insights that made you wonder where on earth he had come up with them. For example, his airline. Once you were in his circle he was always available, he always gave you an answer: his opinion of him, of course, not what you expected to hear. If you didn’t like him it was your business. With him I learned to understand people: it is useless to say things to please the other. D what you think, and if you don’t like it … What can I do ?.

Before him he worked with another great racing driver, multiple rally champion Colin MacRae.
Colin was incredibly talented, no driver was like him. A particular character but a good person. A courage difficult to find in human beings: he was not afraid of anything, and unfortunately for this reason also his end (helicopter accident) is part of his story.

Then came Netflix. With the Drive to Survive series, despite the misfortunes of the Haas, she has become something of an icon: from quarrels with pilots, to swearing after failures.
I don’t get up in the morning thinking of behaving like this, of saying certain things, certain words (laughs, editor’s note). I get up to do my job and then … It happens. People see him as a character and react like that, one thing they like, that’s why it makes me laugh. I have not watched any episode of the series, I do not want to see it: because maybe I see it and change my way of doing. Of course, every now and then my colleagues, my wife show me clips, or even my grandchildren … But no one is ever offended. Many think that I do this cinema on purpose. But I don’t commit myself. all true!.

There are even twitter accounts that resume his exclamations. One of her has 120,000 followers: in her description she says that she approved. real?
The creator is a correct person. When he started to have a lot of followers he wrote me to ask for the ok. I told him I know as long as he didn’t offend people on a personal level or countries. I don’t do anything, I don’t contribute. He does everything. I even invited him to a competition once.

Have you seen that they also sell T-shirts with your face and exclamations online?
I don’t know who makes those … (laughs, ed). They send me pictures of people in the weirdest places in t-shirts. I don’t earn anything! Yet the people who follow me think it’s impossible that it has nothing to do with it.

The last of his famous phrases was the one on the live radio after Magnussen’s last race, which brought you 12 points: Last year I would have fucked the whole paddock for some points. Last year I would have slept with the whole paddock for points.
This is not true, I’ll explain it immediately: I said “I would have hugged the whole paddock” (I would have hugged the whole paddock), but it was misunderstood, to the point that the conductor apologized to the public and we didn’t understand why. People like this character of mine and so they all jumped on their chairs and the sites threw this bomb. But I haven’t done anything wrong and there are the recordings (laughs) that I’m fine with.

Fans heard what they wanted to hear, in short. Did you celebrate afterwards?
Little because there is not much time, we are very busy. We will catch up in Europe so maybe we can celebrate more points! If it continues like this and there are ten per race… We hope to do it in all races.

And how is Mick Schumacher after the accident?
He’s fine, everything back to normal.

Is there anything about him that reminds you of your father Michael?
I’ve never worked with his father on the track, I’ve only crossed paths with him a few times. I’m not the best person to spot a similarity in this sense.

Nikita Mazepin after being fired announced a lawsuit against you. Did he sue Haas?
The lawyers immediately launch into these things: there is legal correspondence, let’s say, but there is no cause.

What do you expect from the next Grand Prix?
It seems to be a good year. We hope to score as many points as possible. It would still be now after two years of starvation. I would be very happy especially for the team who worked hard.

Will it be the year of Ferrari?
If he can play it with Red Bull, they are very close in the rankings. I know that Ferrari has a very performing car: the best will win.

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April 4, 2022 (change April 4, 2022 | 07:53 am)


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