‘But Verstappen can’t help it either’

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Reuters
Günther Steiner tries to catch an American football

NOS Sportstoday, 5:27 PM

Former Haas team boss Günther Steiner is not afraid that Max Verstappen’s dominance will have a negative effect on the popularity of Formula 1 in the United States. “The idea was there to keep him in the Netherlands for a few days,” laughs Steiner.

F1 does everything it can to make the sport attractive to the American public. The fact that it already seems clear that Verstappen will also become world champion this season does not actually help. Steiner has to deal with this as an ambassador for the Miami GP.

“Dominance is never good, especially in American sports,” says Steiner. “On the other hand, I wish Max the best, he and Jos are friends of mine and you can’t blame Max for doing so well.”

And Verstappen’s dominance will also be over one day, says Steiner. “All good things come to an end. We have to be patient. McLaren or Ferrari can do well with updates and then it changes. Max wouldn’t mind that, he’s a fighter.”

This weekend Steiner is back in the Formula 1 paddock. “I did some promotion before the race in New York and Miami. During the weekend I am with guests and I tell people the story behind the Miami GP. And that is special, because it was the first GP that brought the entertainment factor.”

For years, Steiner was both team boss of Haas and a cult hero in the world of Formula 1. The latter was mainly due to his big smile, in combination with his foul language. Additionally, Steiner was the star of the Netflix series Drive to survive.

At the beginning of this year he had to leave the Haas team, but F1 will not have to do without the striking Italian for long.

When the Miami GP debuted, there was heavy criticism of the event. The track would be boring, and just like in Las Vegas, there was (too) a high show content. “Now they’ve fixed everything,” says Steiner. He points to the stands of the stadium, where the paddock is located on the field of the NFL team Miami Dolphins. “It’s now one of the most beautiful places of the year.”

Are there any differences between the three American races? “All three are F1 races,” Steiner summarizes the similarities. “Austin has been there for a long time by American standards. That’s where the real racing fans come, and there is also entertainment. Las Vegas is Las Vegas. You can’t imitate that. And Miami is just a cool city, one of the coolest in the world.”

AFP
Günther Steiner as team boss of Haas

Yet international racing fans are not entirely enthusiastic about the Miami GP. It is still one of the most expensive weekends of the year and the track is still not known as a spectacular one.

Brown isn’t concerned

McLaren CEO Zak Brown is amazed at how quickly Formula 1 has become big in America. He is not afraid of competition with American racing classes such as NASCAR and IndyCar, even now that Verstappen dominates so emphatically.

“These sports are not opposed to each other. F1 is a global form of motorsport. Baseball, NFL and NBA also live side by side. There is room for NASCAR, IndyCar and F1. They complement each other.”

Whether Brown is afraid that F1 will become boring due to Verstappen’s dominance? “Positions 2 to 20 are extremely close together, Max only operates at a high level. F1 has never been more exciting, except for that Max guy. Last year you had five teams with seven or more podiums. In every sport your dominance, and we must bring it to an end.”

The article is in Dutch

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