News Racing F1

Haas F1’s Guenther Steiner Doesn’t Want Another New Team Added to Grid

Team principal Guenther Steiner argues from a weaker position given his own team's record in F1.

After a lengthy consultation process, the FIA finally granted Andretti its approval to join the Formula 1 grid. The F1 establishment has been reticent to agree, though, and multiple teams have come out against the expansion plan. Haas is joining the chorus of dissenters, though its arguing position is perhaps weaker than most.

As reported by The Race, Haas team principal Guenther Steiner has stated he is “absolutely” against the Andretti entry joining F1. “The economic situation, we are stable, but we are not making hundreds of millions of profits,” said Steiner, adding “We are still trying to get our budgets together to work on the budget cap and all that stuff. If you put more teams in there, the risk is if something goes wrong the risk is higher that we fail.”

Steiner noted the troubled pandemic era as a prime reason to deny further teams from joining F1. As COVID-19 forced many races to be delayed or canceled outright, several teams faced financial peril. It was at times unclear whether the sport would be able to continue to hold races, raising dire questions about the future financial viability of multiple outfits. Ultimately, Steiner admitted that the teams themselves don’t have a direct say over whether Andretti joins the grid, noting the decision comes down to Formula 1 Management (FOM) itself.

Fundamentally, Steiner’s argument is much the same as those we’ve heard from the heads of teams like Aston Martin and Mercedes. There is a reluctance from existing competitors to further slice the pie when it comes to F1’s prize money and funding allocations to the teams. Questions have been raised as to whether a new team would add enough to the sport to justify this dilution.

Teams fighting at the front of the grid traditionally provide the most entertainment and excitement to the sport. A year like 2021, which saw the championship go down to the wire, is a great example. Haas, on the other hand, has spent years puttering around at the back of the grid, making more headlines for its driver’s mistakes than successes.

Haas’ performance, or lack thereof, casts a different light on Steiner’s comments. Having helmed a team that has struggled to make an impact on the sport gives the Haas principal a touch less credibility than figures like Toto Wolff or Christian Horner. Obviously, it may be in his own team’s interests to have less competition, but whether that’s the best thing for the sport is another matter entirely. Indeed, LKY SUNZ, one of the unsuccessful applicants attempting to join F1, noted that a team like Haas almost certainly wouldn’t meet the criteria to join the championship today.

Regardless of what the haters will say, Andretti has made a compelling case to join the grid. The team has decades of motorsport experience, including single-seater competitions. Beyond just showing up, the team has an excellent competition record, and promises to draw new American fans to the traditionally European-based sport.

More than just a big name, Andretti also boasts the funding to play at the highest level, along with the backing of automotive heavyweight General Motors. These factors are what pushed it to the top of the FIA’s list ahead of multiple other potential entrants.

Many fans will be clamoring to see the F1 grid get bigger. Meanwhile, Andretti will be champing at the bit to compete at motorsport’s highest level. Whether existing teams can look beyond their own self-interest could play a significant role in determining if the American heavyweight is allowed entry to the hallowed competition.

Got a tip? Let the author know: lewin@thedrive.com