Ex-Haas team principal Guenther Steiner is reportedly not allowed to immediately return to Formula 1, according to Autosport.
It was announced last week that Steiner had departed the American outfit after 10 years of leading them, with the option having been taken by owner Gene Haas not to extend his contract.
Some reported that Steiner had been fired, when actually his contract came to an end at the conclusion of 2023.
Several details of his departure were revealed by himself last weekend, during an appearance at Autosport International.
Steiner revealed that the team’s owner informed him that he wasn’t being offered a new contract during an “out of the blue” phone call, which took place between Christmas and New Year.
Already, Haas has confirmed that Steiner will be replaced by the side’s trackside engineering director Ayao Komatsu, who has never led an F1 team.
As to when Steiner will next be seen in the F1 paddock is unknown, especially given Autosport’s report that the Italian is “under an anti-competition signing arrangement”.
It’s not been confirmed by Steiner or Haas if such a thing is currently in place; however, the theory has emerged after he admitted that if he were to be offered a job in the paddock to start “this week”, he wouldn’t be allowed to accept it.
“While not on gardening leave following his Haas exit, given his contract was not renewed rather than terminated, Steiner is thought currently to be under an anti-competition signing arrangement, which can temporarily be put in place,” Autosport report.
“This differs to the non-working situations F1 team staff can be placed in when they’ve agreed to sign for another team before leaving their current squad.
“This is why when asked if in a hypothetical situation where Christian Horner was to offer him a return to Red Bull this week and could he therefore accept such an offer, Steiner replied: “No.”
The anti-competing clause has not been confirmed by either side.”
What Steiner will get up to next is massively unknown, although he’s not planning on rushing into anything, with him feeling “chilled” about the current situation.
He accepts that it’s ultimately the owner’s decision and his right to do whatever he wants with Steiner, something the ex-boss completely accepts.
“In the end, the contract was up and for me it’s like it always was: ‘if it doesn’t work, just let me know’. I’m not hung on anything,” Steiner told Autosport.
“Gene Haas owns the team and obviously has got the right to decide what he wants to do. Simple as this. If he doesn’t want me around, I’m not [around]. That’s alright, let’s move on. I’m not running and in a rush for the next job – I’m chilled.”