Red Bull advisor Dr Helmut Marko has suggested that Guenther Steiner was a “victim of his popularity” following his exit from Haas.
The US-owned Formula 1 squad announced last week that Steiner would not return to his Team Principal role this year.
The Italian has been replaced by Ayao Komatsu, who has been promoted from the Director of Engineering role.
Steiner held the team boss position ever since Haas joined the grid in 2016 and became one of the sport's most recognisable figures, largely due to his presence in Netflix's Drive To Survive.
However, Marko has stated that Steiner became too popular for team owner Gene Haas' liking, leading to the change in leadership.
"Let's put it this way: anyone who becomes too popular through a documentary like Netflix tends to take off,” he told F1-Insider.
“But if you fly too high too fast, you also crash faster. I've only heard that he wanted to convert his popularity into shares in the team.
“That no longer appealed to owner Gene Haas. It is also the case in our sport that the team always takes precedence over the individual. Steiner became a victim of his popularity."
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Ecclestone dishes criticism
Ex-F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone took aim at Steiner and Haas' lack of performance since joining the grid.
"There has never been a more unsuccessful team boss in Formula 1 who nevertheless became a superstar thanks to a US documentary,” Ecclestone said.
“In my day, when only performance counted, that never happened."
Haas finished at the bottom of the Constructors' Championship twice in the last three years, leaving Gene Haas to admit that he was “embarrassed” by the squad's performance.
Steiner's former peer Franz Tost, who retired from F1 at the end of last year after 18 years at the helm of Toro Rosso/AlphaTauri, offered a defence to the ousted Haas man.
“I got on very well with Guenther, both personally and professionally,” he said. “He was an expert on our sport. That's all I want to say.
“The pressure in Formula 1 is brutal. If a further development of a car doesn't work in the middle of the season, people are looking for someone to blame."