With Formula 1 having had a two-week break since the Italian Grand Prix, following the cancellation of the Russian Grand Prix, Haas team principal Guenther Steiner took some time to feature on the WRC Backstories podcast.
The Italian worked in the World Rally Championship before making the switch to Formula 1 in 2001, where he went on to work for Jaguar, Red Bull and now Haas.
The Haas boss opened up on his time working with the late 1995 WRC Champion Colin McRae, who sadly died in 2007 following a helicopter crash.
McRae was regarded as one of the greatest drivers ever, with Steiner being the first to admit that he hasn’t seen anybody possess the “sheer talent” the Scotsman had.
Steiner worked with McRae in 1999 and 2000, whilst working for factory Ford WRC side M-Sport.
The Haas boss was the director of engineering at the side, where he got on with McRae “very well”.
He worked with McRae and Carlos Sainz Snr. before joining Jaguar in 2001, where he’s then worked for a number of teams in the F1 paddock.
Steiner discussed on the podcast what McRae was like and how he was “the most gifted driver” he’d ever met.
“I got on very well with Colin,” said Steiner on the WRC Backstories podcast.
“At the time I think everyone wanted Colin.
“Of course there was money and being a Scotsman money was important for Colin, but it wasn’t everything and I think Malcolm [Wilson – M-Sport boss] could convince him about the future. Malcolm was a driver himself so he could explain to Colin where he wants to go and therefore he joined Ford
“Colin was the man at the time and I think there will never be anybody, I mean there is always somebody, but I haven’t seen anyone with the sheer talent Colin had at the time
“For him, everything was natural he didn’t need to put any effort in to drive a car quick, it was just there. Some people can talk a lot like me but he can drive fast. I think he was the most gifted driver I ever met.
“He was pretty good [at giving feedback]. If something didn’t work, he was pretty good at telling you. He was pretty straight forward.
“For Colin, everything was natural, either it worked or it didn’t work and then the rest was your problem
“Carlos was going into detail and with Colin it was yes or no, there was nothing in between. If it was no it was your problem. It was black or white. If you had a good test it was very enjoyable to test with Colin, but if it went badly it was the least enjoyable test you could do because he was pissed off because he thought he was wasting his time.”
With Steiner having worked in WRC from 1986-2001, the popular team principal was asked if he’d ever consider returning to the series, something he failed to rule out.
“Never say never,” Steiner answered.
“I have said it before, I never had a plan to be a F1 team principal and I got there and worked my way there so I don’t know what is coming next. I never say never to anything, everything can happen.
“For me, if there is a challenge or an opportunity I go there. If there is something I find interesting it can be anything. I won’t say yes I’m going back to rallying or no I’m not. I don’t know.”