7 April 1965
|Nationality||Italian / American|
|Occupation||Formula One Team principal|
|Employer||Haas F1 Team|
Guenther Steiner (born 7 April 1965) is an Italian motorsport engineer and team manager. He is the current team principal of the Haas Formula One Team (since 2014), and the previous managing director of Jaguar Racing (2001-2003) and technical operations director of its subsequent incarnation, Red Bull Racing.
Born in Merano, South Tyrol, the son of a butcher, Steiner studied engineering; however, without completing his degree, he then moved to Belgium, where he began his career as a mechanic in the World Rally Championship for Mazda Rally Team Europe from 1986-1988.
In 1997, Steiner managed Prodrive's Allstar Rally team, winning the European Rally Championship with Krzysztof Ho?owczyc, and in 1998 M-Sport recruited him as project manager. In 2000, he became promoted to director of engineering, where he worked under the Ford World Rally Team alongside drivers Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz; ultimately, securing consecutive runner-up finishes in the 2000 and 2001 seasons.
Steiner switched to Formula One in 2001 when Jaguar Racing's newly-appointed team principal, Niki Lauda, headhunted him for the job of managing director. According to Steiner, "[Lauda] asked, 'are there any talented people at Ford?' And the reply was 'there's Günther.' The guy lied!" Assuming the role on 3 December, Steiner was responsible for the engineering side of the team at Milton Keynes, while director of strategy John Allison handled administrative tasks.
Steiner reorganised the team and reduced costs during his tenure. However, Jaguar underperformed in the 2002 season, with lead driver Eddie Irvine claiming only eight championship points while teammate Pedro de la Rosa failed to score, and parent company Ford dismissed Lauda on 26 November before making 70 team members redundant.
On 5 December, Jaguar announced Steiner had been replaced by project manager David Pitchforth as part of the restructuring. Spokesman Nav Sidhu said, "he has relinquished his responsibilities as MD but has done nothing wrong. This organisation is in significantly better shape now than when he joined. Günther has clearly laid down the engineering baseline that David will now aim to take on to the next level."
Although Jaguar's new management offered Steiner another role in the team, he ultimately declined, and spent the 2003 season on garden leave before replacing Wiet Huidekoper as technical director at Opel Performance Center in November of that year.
After Red Bull purchased Jaguar Racing in November 2004, Steiner was invited to join Red Bull Racing. Opel's plans to withdraw from the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters at the end of 2005 motivated his return to the Milton Keynes team. His appointment as technical operations director was confirmed on 13 January 2005.
Steiner and team principal Christian Horner jointly led the outfit to improved results in the 2005 season, but when Red Bull poached championship-winning technical director Adrian Newey from McLaren, team owner Dietrich Mateschitz approached Steiner to help establish a NASCAR team in the United States. Feeling the F1 team had become overcrowded, Steiner consulted his wife and agreed to move to Mooresville, North Carolina, where he served as Team Red Bull's technical director from 1 April 2006 to April 2008.
Steiner remained in Mooresville after leaving Red Bull, where he founded the manufacturing company Fibreworks Composites in January 2009.
While the US F1 Team was in development, Steiner met Joe Custer and Gene Haas of Stewart-Haas Racing, who had declined to invest in the project, at a steakhouse. He proposed they themselves enter F1 by ordering a customer car from an established constructor, but delays in securing approval prompted them to apply for entry as a privateer team. Steiner, described as "the prime 'doer'" by motorsport publication Autosport, recruited the core staff, interviewed every team member, and developed partnerships with outsourcers Dallara and Ferrari. On 14 April 2014, he was officially announced team principal of the fledgling Haas F1 Team.
With their entry in the 2016 season, Haas became the first American constructor to compete in F1 in 30 years. The team took eight points at the 2016 Australian Grand Prix with a 6th place finish by driver Romain Grosjean, becoming the first American entry, and the first constructor overall since Toyota Racing in 2002, to score in their debut race. Haas completed the season with an 8th place finish in the 2016 constructor standings and 29 points, all scored by Grosjean.
Steiner holds Italian and American passports, and lives in Mooresville, North Carolina with his wife, Gertraud, and daughter, Greta. Being a native of South Tyrol, he speaks Italian and German, along with English.