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Steiner: Some owners "don't understand" new manager bounce impossible in F1

Guenther Steiner reckons the many recent Formula 1 team principal sackings show some squad owners do not yet “really understand” the championship, amid comparisons to manager churn in football.

Gene Haas, Owner and Founder, Haas F1, Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Steiner’s ousting from Haas ahead of the 2024 campaign means Aston Martin’s Mike Krack is now the third longest-serving F1 team principal, after he was appointed to replace Otmar Szafnauer at the end of the 2021 season.

PLUS: Why the Steiner-Haas F1 team divorce is best for both parties

Szafnauer was then appointed as team principal at Alpine for 2022 before he was axed from that role mid-way through 2023, while Ferrari and Williams changed their team bosses at the end of 2022 and at the end of last year Franz Tost departed AlphaTauri after 18 years running the soon-to-be rebranded Red Bull junior squad.

The 2022-2023 leadership changes at McLaren and Sauber are interlinked as Andreas Seidl left the former to join the latter in preparation for its rebranding as Audi for 2026.

The Swiss squad currently does not have a team principal role in place as Seidl works as Sauber CEO and its managing director, Alessandro Alunni Bravi, additionally acts as ‘team representative’ to front up to the media.

The scale of such team boss turnover has grown significantly when compared to how long-standing F1 squads traditionally operated, where in many cases their founders stayed in place for years before successors took over – usually on a long-term basis.

But where a change of football team manager can often lead to an upturn in results – the so called ‘new manager bounce’ – such transformation is harder to effect in F1 given the long lead times involved in developing cars.

For example, McLaren team principal Andrea Stella has gained much praise for the position the orange team ended up in at the end of 2023, but in his first races after he replaced Seidl last year McLaren initially founded in terms of results.

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team

This was due its car development path had going off course late in 2022 and it took several months for corrections to be made.

When asked why he thought the current rate of team boss replacement had boomed in recent years and left Red Bull’s Christian Horner (since 2005) and Mercedes boss Toto Wolff (since 2014) as the only long-standing team principals left in the paddock, Steiner replied: “Take Mercedes out because Toto owns 33% - he cannot sack himself!”

Speaking to Autosport in an exclusive interview at the 2024 Autosport International Show, Steiner added: “I think it’s that if you don’t perform or if you don’t have the results, it’s the easiest way to do it.

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“Is it the best way? I don’t know and I’m not trying to [feel] sorry for myself – I had a good run on it. But it’s the thing that seems to be the trend in the moment.”

On the football comparison, Steiner outlined his thoughts that the current situation has come about “because I think some people which own the teams – corporates, individuals – they don’t really understand” that a ‘new manager bounce’ is next to impossible in F1.

“Formula 1, in 2024, in my opinion, looking at Bahrain this year, it’s pretty late [for a management change to have an impact],” Steiner said.

“You cannot change that anymore – what happens there, it’s done. The damage is done.

“You need to look what are the plans for 2026/2027. And people don’t want to hear that. Because everything is about the next result.

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team

“As you say, it’s not like football where you change a few players and you can make a big difference.

“In Formula 1, you cannot do that. In Formula 1, it’s just I think the understanding is not out there.

“Sooner or later it will come. Because if people change and the vision of the teams don’t change, nothing will change.

“It’s not about the people anymore, it’s the vision, if you believe in them, and you have to wait it out.”

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