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‘Definitely a character’ – Magnussen and Hulkenberg pay tribute to departing Haas Team Principal Steiner

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Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen, Nico Hulkenberg and former Team Principal Guenther Steiner

Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg have thanked outgoing Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner, who brought both back to the sport after a period away from the F1 grid.

On Wednesday it was announced that Steiner and Haas – the team he had led since they entered F1 in 2016 – would be parting ways with immediate effect, as Ayao Komatsu steps up to replace him.

READ MORE: Guenther Steiner leaves role as Haas Team Principal with immediate effect as Ayao Komatsu promoted

The Italian was an immensely popular figure within the sport, thanks to his starring role in Netflix’s Drive To Survive, and he had also been the third longest-serving team boss on the grid behind Red Bull’s Christian Horner and Mercedes’ Toto Wolff.

His exit comes off the back of a disappointing 2023 campaign, as the squad finished last in the constructors’ championship, with team owner Gene Haas commenting that it was “clear we need to improve our on-track performances.”

Following the announcement, Haas’s driver pairing of Magnussen and Hulkenberg – who are both signed on through to the end of 2024 – took to social media to share their thanks to Steiner for their time together.

Magnussen, in particular, has had many years working with the Italian, with the Dane’s 2024 season set to be his seventh at Haas across two spells.

“Thanks, Guenther,” Magnussen posted on Instagram. “Thanks for taking me on the journey in 2017 and thanks for bringing me on board again in 2022.

EXCLUSIVE: 'It came down to performance’ – Gene Haas on Guenther Steiner's departure and what it means for his team’s future

“It has been both fun and tremendously challenging – but never boring. So long and all the best.”

Hulkenberg also had Steiner to thank for handing him another full-time F1 opportunity, having spent the 2020, 2021 and 2022 seasons as a reserve for the Racing Point, and subsequently Aston Martin, outfit.

That full-time return to F1 also allowed the German to register his 200th Grand Prix start of his career, which he did in Mexico City last year.

“Thanks, Guenther,” the 36-year-old posted. “For your trust, friendship and the opportunity to go racing in F1 again! You’re definitely a character... all the best!”

Steiner’s replacement as Team Principal is a man both Hulkenberg and Magnussen will know well, in the form of 47-year-old Komatsu. With over 20 years of experience in F1, he has worked with Haas since their 2016 debut, originally starting as Chief Race Engineer before rising to Director of Engineering.

Haas have indicated that Komatsu will take responsibility for the team’s overall strategy, and ultimately their on-track performance, with the team planning to recruit a European-based Chief Operating Officer who will look after all non-competition matters and departments.

ANALYSIS: The key reasons behind Guenther Steiner’s shock Haas departure

“I’m naturally very excited to have the opportunity to be Team Principal at Haas,” Komatsu said on his appointment. “Having been with the team since its track-debut back in 2016 I’m obviously passionately invested in its success in Formula 1. I’m looking forward to leading our program and the various competitive operations internally to ensure we can build a structure that produces improved on-track performances.

“We are a results-based business at the end of the day, and we obviously haven’t been competitive enough recently which has been a source of frustration.

“We have amazing support from Gene and our various partners – particularly MoneyGram, and we want to mirror their enthusiasm with an improved on-track product. We have a great team of people across Kannapolis, Banbury and Maranello and together I know we can reach the kind of performances we’re capable of.”

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