JUNE 15, 2023

Steiner hits back at F1 bad guy image

Gunther Steiner has hit back at the notion that he has become a "bad guy" of Formula 1.

Gunther Steiner, Monaco GP 2023
© Haas F1 Team / LAT

Gunther Steiner has hit back at the notion that he has become a "bad guy" of Formula 1.

The Haas team boss admits his personal profile and popularity has soared since his often foul-mouthed, bad-tempered antics were shown in the Netflix series Drive to Survive.

He has since published a book and it is now being released in other languages, but given his role in Mick Schumacher's demise, Steiner admits there is a dark side to his popularity.

"Look, it's not bad - it's good for Formula 1, it's good for Haas, it's good for me from time to time, so you have to deal with it and respect the fans because without fans we wouldn't exist," he told Marca sports newspaper.

"We need to be seen, because we have to make money and it costs a lot. But I didn't wake up one morning and say 'I want to be popular'."

This week, even former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone came out against Steiner, describing him as an "unsuccessful team boss" who became "a superstar in the paddock because of rude comments".

When asked about that image, Steiner responded: "I don't like it or dislike it. I don't really care.

"I'm very passionate, but I'm not a bad guy. I tell people what I want and I have to do it if I want to get anything because it's not an easy fight out there."

Therefore, he's also a supporter of the way Liberty Media has 'Americanised' the sport with exciting new markets - often at the detriment of F1's traditional base.

"If this had not been done I think F1 would have started to fall," Steiner insists. "Because it was very static and if the rest are moving then you start to go backwards.

"Liberty knew of the potential and what they wanted to do, otherwise they wouldn't have bought a show that had been stagnant since 2000 and was repeating itself over and over again."