“Surviving to Drive” by Guenther Steiner reviewed

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Has Drive to Survive raised the profile of any individual in Formula 1 more than Haas team principal Guenther Steiner?

Sure, Daniel Ricciardo became another favourite figure of the hit Netflix series. But when the Box to Box crew first sent their cameras into the paddock Ricciardo was already a grand prix winner and far better known than the leader of a team which was only in its third season.

Steiner’s plain-spoken, unfiltered and often profane reactions to his team’s fluctuating fortunes certainly helped him become the unlikeliest break-out star of the series. But how well does that style come across in book form?

In Surviving to Drive (you can see what they did there) Steiner retells the story of the 2022 season, adding in snippets of his backstory. This is all told in some approximation of his mannerisms familiar from a dozen DTS memes – in other words, heavy on the expletives, including over 300 uses of ‘fok’. That averages out at more than one per page.

That’s not going to be to everyone’s tastes, though for me it was less of a problem than how forced the narrative feels. There’s no end of cheeky chappy what-is-he-like ‘Banter Steiner’, which starts to grate about three pages in, but other passages read like rehashed press releases.

It’s repetitive, too, and not just in its self-references. Many of the recaps of 2022 races boil down to little more than luck going against them. Mentions of the ‘ongoing silly season’ crop up in close succession.

The limitations of the style would be tolerable – just – if Surviving to Drive brought compelling new insights into the goings-on at Haas last year. But it adds little to what was reported over the course of 2022 and too often lapses into bland explanations of aspects of the season unrelated to the team.

Its most enjoyable passages are the handful of anecdotes about the early stages of his career. Perhaps because the author assumes the reader is less familiar with the stories – and in spite of his apologies for including them – these are the most colourful and entertaining sections of the book.

Steiner also lives up to his reputation of being unwilling to pull punches. Andreas Seidl gets some largely good-humoured stick, Ralf Schumacher the same but without the humour (and with his name misspelled).

Surviving to Drive also stands out as being a rare example of an F1 team principal putting pen to paper at all, never mind while still an active competitor. That makes it an interesting case but given its other shortcomings is not enough to earn it a recommendation.

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RaceFans rating

Rating two out of five

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Surviving to Drive

Author: Guenther Steiner
Publisher: Bantam Press
Published: 2023
Pages: 282
Price: £20.00
ISBN: 9781787636279


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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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8 comments on ““Surviving to Drive” by Guenther Steiner reviewed”

  1. I am an avid consumer of motor racing literature – but this one isn’t a must buy for me I’m afraid. A one sided focus on a single season from an also ran team manager – nope . . . sorry.

    1. It’s a must-not buy, wouldn’t even read it for free tbh considering who it comes from.

  2. Must say I don’t understand the appeal of Steiner. He must be a nightmare as a boss and he’s not exactly delivering results.

  3. I do believe there was a Johnny Herbert / Damon Hill stocking filler book that also misspelled Ralf Schumacher’s name. I think he was called ‘Rolf’. I get that he lives in his older brothers shadow, but you’d think people would at least bother to get his name right if they’re going to include him in a book.

    1. The same Herbert / Hill book also misspelt the name of the Benetton F1 team!

  4. After reading the excerpt in the earlier article I was already not feeling this book and it appears from this review it doesn’t get much better than that. That’s a hard skip then.

  5. Going to buy it anyway. I just like the guy, always like the underdogs.

    1. That should depend on the underdog. Being one is not an achievement in itself, it’s the easiest thing to be. So for me it’s more about how you got there and how you handle it I don’t see a Minardi-like story here, I don’t see him or his boss sacrificing anything, or doing this out of passion (but rather for money only). I don’t even think they are doing too well. So they aren’t an underdog fighting an almost impossible battle, nor they are punching above their weight, and there is zero charisma. Plus they are as greedy as Liberty, talking mostly about money and signing contracts with shady sponsors (their preferred kind it seems). That goofing around in a reality show just makes me like them even less. I definitely miss teams like Minardi, as well as teams like Jordan Haas is just a bit odd team for me. The book? I’m sure I can find better reads. I sound even more negative than I thought I would, but I guess any kind of attention is better than none, that’s what they are going for anyway.

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