NFL superstar JJ Watt and Haas F1 team principal Guenther Steiner, the most unlikely of bromance



CNN

A giant five-foot-tall NFL colossus and an Italian team principal on a Formula 1 squad aren’t best friends.

But JJ Watt and Guenther Steiner are breaking those molds.

Three-time NFL Defender of the Year Watt fell in love with Formula 1 through Netflix’s engaging documentary “Drive to Survive” and his favorite character was none other than Haas Steiner’s team principal.

The 57-year-old avunculus became a fan favorite during the show’s documentation of the F1 season, most notably catching the attention of defensive Arizona Cardinal star Watt.

In March of this year, after Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher finished fifth and 11th respectively at the Bahrain Grand Prix, Watt tweeted: “Someone get Guenther Steiner in front of a camera and inject him into my veins. KMag 5th and Mick 11th?!? Destroy all the doors! ”

Steiner out and about before the Miami Grand Prix.

As a result, Watt and his younger brother TJ – also a top defender of the Pittsburgh Steelers and current Defender of the Year – were invited to the Haas garage and pit area ahead of the Miami Grand Prix.

During their time in the pits, the Watt brothers spent time with the engineers, engaging in fast pitstops that wow fans.

Watt told CNN Sport’s Amanda Davies that although he will need to “work on it”, he believes that if he “came back a couple of times and had more, I think I could have been a rock star.”

Steiner, on the other hand, saw healthy competition between the NFL’s two stellar brothers.

“I think his biggest challenge was beating his brother. I saw it, I watched it as they did it, “he told Davies.

“They just wanted to fight each other. ‘I was better than you’, you know? And being the greatest, of course, he wanted to be the man. It’s not easy. Everyone thinks it is easy to make these pit stops, but they are quite demanding ”.

After Watt’s captivating weekend, he tweeted his praises to Steiner once again.

“Whichever team Guenther Steiner is the main one of, I am a fan,” he wrote. “A huge thank you to Guenther, KMag, Mick, Stu and everyone in the Haas garage for their hospitality and for allowing us to test our pit stop skills.

“We may not get in the car, but we can lift the damn thing.”

Watt and Steiner are the two extremes of the physical scale.

One is a gigantic and imposing man, the other a smaller, slightly grizzled European with a distinctive mustache.

“He’s a superstar,” says Steiner of Watt. “He is the real man. He just looks at our size. I’m a mouse compared to him. ”

But what Steiner may lack in physical size, he certainly makes up for in personality.

Watt fell in love with his charismatic nature, even calling him a “pretty massive celebrity around here”. But it’s his honesty that really captured the 33-year-old’s heart.

Watt warms up before a game against the Cleveland Browns.

“I think it’s the passion, the enthusiasm, the teamwork and the energy that’s inside. I think specifically here, “explained Watt.” And I think specifically, the reason people relate to Guenther is because of his energy and how much he pours into his team and his boys, how much he cares and a little bit. ‘of enthusiasm and some of the character and colorful language too.

“But it’s real, it’s honest, it’s true. And you can tell it means something, and I think that’s what’s so good about it. ”

During his time at the Miami GP, the debut race at the new Florida circuit, Watt was shown the inner workings of the Haas F1 team.

He spent time with both Magnussen and Schumacher, gaining insight into how the American team does things.

And even for someone plying their trade in a retail-oriented sport – with playbooks and exact diets – Watt admitted he was impressed with the accuracy required to be successful in the sport.

“The amount of things that have to go right for this to happen. I mean, every single nut and bolt, and there’s a guy with Windex cleaning the wing and just the amount of stuff and the amount of people it takes to be successful and if one person gets it wrong once, the whole things can fall apart. And I think it’s amazing to watch it in motion. ”

The Watt brothers weren’t the only NFL superstars spotted in the pit lane at the Miami GP.

Seven-time Super Bowl champion and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady was photographed with other sports legends Michael Jordan and David Beckham.

The star-studded event was described as the “F1 Super Bowl” by Lewis Hamilton to Brady earlier in the week, and certainly had the atmosphere of a highlight event with A-list celebrities in attendance.

Although Max Verstappen got a dominant performance to claim the inaugural title, it was a highlight on the F1 calendar and Steiner believes it can have a positive effect on the sport’s growth in the United States.

“Can we make it grow? I don’t know why, next year, we’ll definitely have Las Vegas being our next thing, but I think Liberty Media knows exactly what to do, ”Steiner said.

“As they have brought Formula 1 to this point, they will know how to do the next one. And I think the next thing is to stabilize it here, where it is. And then maybe when we are ready, we can still improve.

“But at the moment I think we are at a high level. And even if there is a little less in the years to come, I don’t think it’s a drama because it’s very interesting right now. And I find it’s fantastic and what Liberty has done with her sport in the US is just amazing. ”