The 2024 F1 season is one of change for Haas amid the departure of team boss Guenther Steiner and its technical director Simone Resta.
Dissatisfied with the lack of progress, owner Gene Haas has swung the axe and entrusted new principal Komatsu to undertake a full-scale revision of its technical programme and employ a more engineering-led approach.
As Haas revealed renders of Kevin Magnussen’s and Nico Hulkenberg’s 2024 machine, the VF-24, Komatsu has explained his vision of where it has gone wrong for Haas, and why it will have to brace for short-term pain to take the next step.
Failing to convert one-lap pace into sustained race performance, partly due to tyre overheating issues, Haas decided to change the concept for last year’s US Grand Prix in September in an effort to find a cure.
That redeveloped car didn’t yield major results and, not only did it fail to arrest its slide to last in the constructors’ championship, but it also forced the squad to halt its 2024 car programme during a critical period.
It was a big price to pay, with Komatsu expecting Haas to be “towards the back of the grid if not last” in Bahrain. But he says that the experiment was necessary to avoid even bigger issues for 2024.
“We’re realistic about our expectations for the VF-24 to start,” said Komatsu.
Ayao Komatsu, Chief Engineer, Haas F1 Team, in the team principals Press Conference
Photo by: FIA Pool
“Out of the gates in Bahrain, I still think we’re going to be towards the back of the grid, if not last. The reason our launch-spec car is not going to be quick enough in Bahrain is not because of the quality of the people we have here, but it’s because we started late and then we stopped for two months to do the Austin upgrade.
“It was a big exercise to do, and it did delay our VF-24 development, but if we hadn’t done it and then had a huge surprise come pre-season testing, it would’ve hurt us immensely.
“It was a difficult balance, and doing the Austin package means the VF-24 launch car may not be as advanced as it could be but, at the same time, we have better confidence in what we’re putting out on track now.
“We’re all realistic that our launch car in Bahrain will not necessarily turn heads, but our concentration and focus is to work with the VF-24, understand the car, and then define the correct pathway to upgrade the car.”
In recent years Haas has had a tendency to…