Formula 1 Racing

The cultural shift behind new-look Haas in F1 2024

Ayao Komatsu, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team, and teammates stand for the national anthem on the grid

Dissatisfied with the lack of progress, and at odds over the resources needed to move up the order, owner Gene Haas decided not to renew long standing team boss Guenther Steiner’s contract last winter.

After finishing 10th with a car that fundamentally didn’t work over race distances, Haas instead turned to the team’s senior engineer Komatsu for a more engineering led approach, which had turned out well with Andrea Stella at McLaren.

But Haas is not McLaren. It doesn’t boast the same level of facilities and its business model is different too. In addition to its main headquarters in Banbury, it also operates a hub at Ferrari’s Maranello campus – which supplies its power units and rear end, and is a customer of Italian single-seater powerhouse Dallara.

To make those different facilities and teams more efficient and performant, Komatsu embarked on a restructuring of the technical team, promoting Damien Brayshaw to the newly-created post of Head of Vehicle Performance, mirroring a role employed by most other teams.

Ferrari loanee Simone Resta left his role as technical director, being replaced from within by former chief designer Andrea De Zordo.

Those two internal promotions are helpful because of their instant availability without gardening leave periods, but it also suggests Komatsu had faith in key staff that were already at the team rather than feeling the need to poach big money employees from elsewhere.

“As I said, from day one, we’ve got really good people, it’s just a matter of making them feel secure,” Komatsu said at the Monaco Grand Prix.

Ayao Komatsu, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team, and teammates stand for the national anthem on the grid

Photo by: Mark Sutton

“It’s okay [to make mistakes], and just be open, transparent. That’s the most important thing.

“I was really happy that this morning we were discussing things as well and that meeting was very healthy, even though some of the things are not necessarily what everyone wanted to hear.

PLUS: Following the Haas team manager through an F1 weekend

“But there was nobody who was defensive. We’re [working] to the best of our knowledge and saying: ‘This is the truth, what are we doing about it? What’s the plan of action?’ So, that was a very positive.

“For instance, in the low-speed [corners] we didn’t improve the car as much as we expected. It’s good that we can pinpoint that.”

It’s clear that the Haas’ internal revamp isn’t without its teething issues. A…

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