Sky Sports F1 pundits Damon Hill and David Croft have questioned the 'real reason' behind Guenther Steiner's sudden departure from Haas as team principal, with the pair both admitting the sport have lost a 'massive character'.
And speaking in the immediate aftermath of his departure as team boss, 1996 F1 champion Hill wondered why exactly Haas made the decision to let Steiner go.
“Guenther became a bit of a celebrity thanks to the the famous Netflix series [Drive to Survive] and the behind the scenes filming of him and he is absolutely a kind of huge character," he told Sky Sports.
“Very decisive, very confident and very sure of what he's saying. Maybe this is part of the mix, he wants to win.
"I don't know what the real reason is for the departure, but it's a big loss to the sport because fans liked him, he attracted people. He was controversial, he was outspoken – maybe he didn't get the results that Gene Haas wanted."
Fellow Sky Sports pundit and lead commentator, Croft, echoed Hill's thoughts as he also gave his verdict on the team's decision to part ways with Steiner.
Croft: F1 has lost a massive character
"Firstly, it’s Gene Haas' team, and Guenther Steiner was getting the lion's share of the attention and I'm sure that didn't go down hugely well with the team owner," he said.
“But that's no reason to get rid of somebody. Their performance on track last year might have been part of the picture as well.
"Great on a Saturday in terms of the way that Nico Hulkenberg, for instance, managed to get into the top 10 in qualifying.
"But then part of the reason for their great qualifying performances undermines really their performance on the track on a Sunday, so they would go backwards through the field, and that for an owner like Gene Haas was probably not acceptable.
"Finishing bottom of the table, that's not what Gene Haas would want. So Guenther, I think has paid the price for that.
"He has got other business interests and I'm sure he will be absolutely fine in that respect, but I'm with Damon on this – Formula 1 has lost a massive character, a very popular character and someone who transcended the sport somewhat.
"He was number three team principle [in terms of publicity and airtime] I think behind Christian Horner and Toto Wolff. And that's good for the sport that the fans want to associate themselves with a team like Haas.
"They really like what Guenther stands for and that's the underdog taking it to the big boys. I really think we have lost a great character around the paddock and one I hope returns in another guise somewhere in the future."
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