New Haas Team Principal Capable of Managing Key Role in Formula 1

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Haas’ new team boss can handle top F1 job

Ayao Komatsu, the new team principal at Haas, is well-equipped to handle the transition from an engineering role to leading a Formula 1 team, according to former Renault driver Vitaly Petrov. Komatsu, who previously served as the race engineer for Petrov at Renault in 2011, joined Haas in 2016 and steadily climbed the engineering ranks. The team’s owner, Gene Haas, made the decision to replace Gunther Steiner with Komatsu for the 2024 season.

Petrov, who spent considerable time working with Komatsu, expressed confidence in his capabilities. During their time together, Petrov observed Komatsu’s knowledge and foresaw his potential for advancement in Formula 1. Despite starting as a race engineer, Petrov noted that Komatsu possessed the qualities necessary for a broader leadership role.

New Haas Team Principal Capable of Managing Key Role in Formula 1
New Haas Team Principal Capable of Managing Key Role in Formula 1 (Credits: Haas F1 Team)

“I spent a lot of time with Ayao. At that time, he was still learning and getting the experience to be promoted to race engineer, but he already knew a lot. And it was very easy to work with him. I always saw great potential in Ayao,” Petrov stated.

The Russian driver emphasized that Komatsu’s promotion to team boss was a natural progression, given his understanding of the sport and willingness to express his opinions. Petrov acknowledged the challenges that Komatsu would face with increased responsibilities but expressed confidence in his ability to handle the transition.

“He sees and understands a lot and is not afraid to express his opinion. Yes, difficult work awaits him now. Many more people will report to him now compared to before. But, on the other hand, you shouldn’t think that a race engineer works only with those who go to the races or is focused solely on setting up the car. Outside of race weekends, he works with the entire team and is actively involved in the process of improving the car. So, I think Ayao has everything he needs for his new role. I am sure that a great future awaits him, and I am happy for him,” Petrov commented.

Komatsu, in his new role as team principal, shared insights into his initial priorities for Haas. He highlighted the need to enhance the team’s operations between its two facilities in the UK and Italy. Despite the challenges posed by the team’s structure, which includes multiple facilities, Komatsu clarified that it was not the sole reason for Haas finishing at the bottom in 2023.

“If you could start a team now, you wouldn’t have two factories in England and Italy, but that’s just the structure,” he explained. “In 2016 and 2018, it was very helpful to get us started. Then the rules changed, and the team had to develop accordingly.”

While acknowledging the need for improvement after a challenging 2023 season, Komatsu stressed the importance of a gradual process to avoid drastic changes that could lead to further setbacks in 2024. He sees the upcoming season as an opportunity to learn and implement changes that will benefit Haas in the long term.

“Can we already do better? Yes, absolutely,” said Komatsu. “In 2023, we were not where we should be, and that is why the decision to change something followed. But you can’t change things too drastically because then 2024 will be a complete disaster. We have to improve the team in 2024, but I see it as a gradual process. What we learn in 2024 will help us know how to do things in five, eight, ten years’ time.”


By Jayson O'Neil

Jayson is a car-o-holic, and you will often find him writing about cars & bikes here at DaxStreet. You can reach out to him at [email protected]

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