F101: Perspective of a Principal with Guenther Steiner
The COTA team had the chance to catch up with Guenther Steiner, Team Principal of MoneyGram Haas F1 Team, this summer. The life of a Team Principal has extreme ups and downs, as they are held responsible for the performance of their team come race weekend. Steiner gave Formula 1 fans insight into choosing drivers, “silly season,” and more about his role.
1. From a Team Principal’s perspective, what elements do you look for in a driver when determining their fit for a team?
The driver needs to fit into the team, that’s most important. How his philosophy is. He needs to beat the right level also because if you are not a top team and you want a top driver, it’s difficult to get them and maybe it isn’t his right place. But you just need that teamwork, it’s very important, that the driver is part of the team and not “just” a driver.
2. How would you describe “silly season” to a new F1 fan?
Silly Season. The name says it all! It’s silly because everyone thinks he knows something which most of the time they don’t! So they just make it up. It’s basically the “driver market” as it is called a little more professionally. It’s the part of the season when the drivers look for another drive or the teams look for another driver and we start to negotiate. Anytime you speak with a driver and somebody sees you then they say “ah he spoke with him for a drive” but we all know each other very well here. That is why it is called Silly Season because everyone tries to have a scoop out of it!
3. Can you describe your role in 10 words or less?
Running a company where there is always chaos.
4. How would you describe your role to a new F1 fan?
The role of Team Principal is running a big company on a small scale. You have to deal with a lot of things like marketing, technology, racing, the press, budgets, people. So it’s a very demanding thing. You need to be involved with everything because when you meet up with the other Team Principals you want to be an expert on everything like all the other ones. So, you just need to get involved with everything. It’s very demanding, it’s a 24-hour job but it’s enjoyable.
5. What do you think all Team Principals have in common?
I think we are all very dedicated. We are all very passionate about what we are doing.
6. What aspect of F1 do you wish was talked about more?
I think the aspect of how much energy of people, not only like me or the drivers, goes into this job. Sometimes hearing the stories how people–mechanics, catering staff, cooks–get to this sport is quite amazing how much effort they put in to end up here because they love this sport so much. That is not really seen. Nobody really thinks about it. Sometimes when I speak with people: “how did you end up here to work in Formula 1” you get the most amazing stories. I think that would be very interesting for fans to hear about.