Haas team principal Gunther Steiner says he was taken out of context when he urged F1 not to “dumb down like IndyCar racing,” but he insists the two sports should not be compared.
Formula 1 is undergoing a period of introspection as the FIA, Liberty Media and the teams attempt to thrash out an agreement on what the sport should look like in 2021, and Steiner has been vocal that technology and team individuality should remain central to the category.
In China he argued that spec car series like IndyCar should not serve as a template, urging the governing body “to be very careful not to dumb down Formula 1,” drawing the ire of four-time IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti.
“Yeah, who wants to watch a series with overtaking + drivers making a difference,” he tweeted. “There’s a big difference between some spec parts ‘dumbing down.’
“Anyway, isn’t the Haas car built and developed by others? Seems Steiner’s only qualification is making misinformed comments.”
But on Thursday Steiner protested that he had been taken out of context, insisting instead that meant Formula 1 offered a different sort of spectacle to IndyCar.
“There are lots of different kinds of racing, but F1 is unique, and it has a long history,” he said. “It’s not only the racing and how many overtakes a weekend. There is a lot more to it.
“If you talk how many overtakes, go and watch sprint car races in America, they are fantastic overtaking-wise.
“Why don’t we compare it with that? Because we don’t want to. Why would we? This is F1 and you come here for different things.
“It’s the pinnacle of motorsport and technology, so there is so much more than the overtaking.”
Steiner said F1 would do best to focus on its own strengths in formulating new rules instead of focusing on rival series.
“Firstly, we are Formula 1 and we need to do what is right for Formula 1,” he said. “That is the main thing, and it is being done at the moment with a lot of work going into it.
“There is change coming in F1 with a lot happening. It can get better [but] I don’t think we need to compare it or imitate anything else, we can stand on our own legs.
“We shouldn’t compare ourselves with IndyCar, rallycross, WRC or LMP1 racing. We need to focus on ourselves here, which is the best way to do it.”