The American-owned outfit spent much of 2023 trying to get to the bottom of why its VF-23 car was fast in qualifying but would struggle so much to look after its tyres in the race.
An upgrade introduced at the United States Grand Prix to help improve the aerodynamic characteristics did not deliver a clear answer either about what direction it needed to head in, and drivers Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg ended up going different routes.
As the team prepares for the launch of its 2024 car, new Haas boss Ayao Komatsu is clear that much of the focus of its winter efforts has been on addressing the tyre issue, which he says have not yet been fully resolved.
“I don’t think we understand everything,” admitted Komatsu. “I think we understand a significant part of it, but the only proof is if you can produce a car that can deal with the problem.
“I don’t like to sit here and say that we understand it 100%, We don’t. But we have a decent idea of why and where we need to focus on.”
Trying to address aggressive tyre problems in races is not a new phenomenon for Haas, as it has faced similar issues in the past – such as in 2019 when it suffered from warm-up issues.
Komatsu, who has been with Haas since it was founded, says there may be some common factors at play that could revolve around how the squad’s different departments integrate with each other.
Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images
Ayao Komatsu, Chief Engineer, Haas F1 Team, and Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team, on the grid
“From ’19 to ’23, the programme is very different,” he said. “It may look the same, but it is very different. But the working practice is the core.
“If we are not working in a very integrated manner, communicating properly between the aero department in Italy to the tyre department in the UK, that is a problem.
“That working culture and practice is something I am going to focus on improving. We want to move as one.
“We’ve got a real car issue, accept it, then communicate and discuss it openly with all the relevant people. And even then, if around the table there is still a disagreement from certain people, you cannot avoid that.”
Komatsu said that key to Haas making progress was in improving the lines of communication, and ensuring that the infrastructure was robust enough for the right decisions to be made.
“I do think that disagreement is healthy, as long as everybody then knows that a decision needs to be taken,” he added. “So…