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THE GUENTHER STEINER COLUMN: Why the driver market is a big dance – and why I’m always open to a good project

Former F1 Team Principal

Guenther Steiner
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Guess who’s back? It’s been three Grands Prix since my first column – and as there’s been a fair bit going on, I thought I’d pen another one ahead of this weekend’s Miami Grand Prix.

Red Bull and Max Verstappen are obviously doing a fantastic job right now. They are dominating.

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I really respect Sergio Perez, he’s a very good driver – but he can’t get near Max right now. Max is on a different planet. He is already one of the greatest ever in his era, like Lewis Hamilton was a few years ago.

When you’re on a wave like this, you have the confidence, you’re happy with life and nothing goes wrong. But all good things come to an end. It won’t last forever – just look at Lewis right now.

It’s no surprise Mercedes boss Toto Wolff is interested in signing Max. Will Max leave Red Bull? He is in a good place.

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 21: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull

Steiner believes Verstappen can already be thought of as one of the greatest ever in his era

‘We don’t have to worry about Carlos’

One of the big players in the driver market right now is Carlos Sainz, who doesn’t have a seat for next year after losing out to Lewis.

Once Red Bull and Mercedes decide what they want to do with their open seats, Carlos could be in the frame.

Carlos will know he has an option at Sauber, which will become Audi in 2026. I think they are keen to have him onboard. But I don’t think Carlos is in a hurry to sign anything until he knows the doors to the big teams are closed.

READ MORE: Sainz’s manager says ‘we’re still playing the game’ as he gives update on the Spaniard’s F1 future

He’s won a race this year and is in great form, so you can understand why he ideally wants his next project to give him the chance to keep doing that.

The seat everyone will really want is Red Bull – but the team are in no rush to make a decision as Checo is doing a great job. Mercedes aren’t in a hurry either.

So, Carlos can wait. He will not be without a good seat in the end. It’s just a question of how good that seat is.

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 21: Carlos Sainz of Spain and Ferrari looks on during the drivers parade

Carlos Sainz is still looking for a drive for 2025

His father Carlos Sainz Senior, who I know very well, will play a big role in determining his son’s future. He’s one of the smartest negotiators I know. The guy is just so good. Look at how he helped Carlos get into Formula 1.

He’s won two world championships himself in rally and he won the famous Dakar Rally at over 60 years old – he’s always in the right car at the right time.

He will help make the best move available at that moment in time. I have no doubt about that – which is why we don’t have to worry about Carlos!

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‘It’s all about information gathering’

Driver managers whose clients are out of contract at the end of this season will be busy working the paddock each weekend.

They will be going around gathering information. Everyone is so organised and knows so much, it’s actually very hard to play the market – unless you are confident you have a near cast-iron option somewhere.

Ultimately, it’s just a big dance. The teams want to get the best driver available – and the drivers want to get the best seat available.

LUSAIL, QATAR - OCTOBER 5: Haas F1 Team Principal Guenther Steiner walks in the paddock during

Steiner knows what it's like trying to sign drivers from his time as Haas Team Principal

When I was looking for drivers, my play was simple – I went for the drivers I wanted but who I knew I had a shot of getting given what I was offering.

I never had an open wallet, so that made life challenging. At the back of my mind, I always had an idea of who I would get if I couldn’t get my number one choice.

I don’t like to call them a Plan B – but you’ve got to have options who you would be very happy with because if you don’t have the best car and the biggest wallet, you can’t ever be sure you will get the driver at the top of your wish list.

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‘It’s always good to be around F1’

I often get asked what I’m up to now I’m not running a Formula 1 team. I stay involved in the sport, albeit for now in a different role.

It’s always good to be around the people which count in this sport – and see what’s happening.

There’s no urgency to get my next job as a Team Principal. I’m always open to a good project. What is a good project? I can’t define it – but they always come up.

Staying around gives me ideas. I’m very lucky I’m under no pressure. And it means I can enjoy a lot more time with my family.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 22: Guenther Steiner greets fans on the Melbourne Walk prior to

Steiner is staying around F1, and is always open to any good projects that may come his way

‘See you in Miami’

I’m delighted to be working as an ambassador for this year’s Miami Grand Prix as it’s an event I have loved working at, in a city that is among the best in the world.

I have a lot of respect for the promoter. Not everything was perfect in the first year, but that’s normal. In the second year, there was a big improvement. They absorbed the advice and made the event better.

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This year, you can get a campus ticket for $150 per day which gives you general admission access. In some spaces, you’ll be just a few metres from the track, in others you can find your way to the top of the Hard Rock Stadium and get a great view of the inner workings of the hospitality paddock, which sits on the pitch.

I’ll be there all weekend – so if you see me, come and say hello. If you’re keen to attend the race weekend, there are still tickets available.

Oh – and one last thing. It’s finally happened. Social media has got me and I’ve joined Instagram. If you like my nonsense, give me a follow @LifeofSteiner!

Chat to you soon.

Guenther

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