Ayao Komatsu Haas F1 Test

Ayao Komatsu’s Debut Test as Haas F1’s New Chief


Ayao Komatsu, stepping into his role as Haas F1’s new chief, faces a pivotal first test in the upcoming winter testing. With minimal pressure, his focus is on gradual car improvements.

Komatsu, the new chief of Haas F1, is set to face a significant first test in his new role during next week’s winter testing.

At least the pressure isn’t too high: as Günther Steiner’s successor has already stated, Haas is expected to start the season with the slowest car on the grid.

For now, Komatsu’s goals are rather modest, some might say minimalist…

Ayao Komatsu Haas F1 Test

“The short-term objective is really to make gradual improvements to the car. As I’ve mentioned before, I believe we have good ingredients and people on the team, but we really need to focus on keeping the team united, and ensuring these developments actually translate to success on the F1 track.”

“The long-term naturally follows from this, so for example, our first medium-term goal is to enhance the car’s performance, and this has been achieved in the past, so I believe we can do it.”

“I think I’m not looking too far into the future because this change represents a truly exciting opportunity for everyone. Everyone is looking to improve and make progress in their respective areas, so for me, I’m just focused on facilitating all of this. Every day, we take on the challenge of seeing what we can improve.”

The VF-24 has been developed with a specific goal: to reduce tire wear. This was a major issue for the VF-23, which literally devoured its tires during races, also eliminating any hope of performing well.

“It’s not really about comparing the differences between specifications, but if you look at our problem from last year, it was clear that on Sundays, we simply couldn’t manage the tires over 300 kilometers – so that’s what we’re focusing on,” admits the Japanese chief.

“Our testing program in Bahrain is entirely focused on generating relevant data so that our engineers can understand what’s happening to the car and the tires.”

“Then, if we have high-quality data, we can decide on how to improve our car.”

Hülkenberg and Magnussen, two different driving styles?

Ayao Komatsu Haas F1 Test

Last year, Nico Hülkenberg seemed more comfortable behind the wheel than Kevin Magnussen: has the VF-24 been designed to rebalance these dynamics within the team? Will the relationship between the two drivers remain unaffected?

“Their working relationship is very good. As for the car they’re looking for, it’s not exactly the same, but the fundamental principles are similar, so the team doesn’t have to cater to two different preferences, which is great. Their feedback has been very precise, so to speak, in how they communicate the car’s issues. They explain it in a way that engineers can understand very well, which really helps move the team forward.”

“Furthermore, both are very mature, so when it comes to the program for Friday’s runs, tire allocation, etc., they both understand the bigger picture and the rules to follow, which takes a lot of pressure off the engineering team, so that’s really good.”

This year, Ayao Komatsu can count on not one, but two reserve drivers, Pietro Fittipaldi and Oliver Bearman. How will roles be distributed?

“Pietro has been with the team for a long time and is always ready, very professional. He works very well with the team, and I’m very happy to rely on him for half a season, due to the IndyCar schedule.”

“Ollie did a fantastic job during his free practice sessions and the tests in Abu Dhabi, so he will be an essential part of the team. I’m really looking forward to working with both of them.”

Bearman’s Six 2024 Sessions: Future Race Seat?

Bearman will have no less than six free practice sessions in 2024… isn’t this paving the way for a future race seat?

“Again, it’s about gradual improvements. To see how he reacts to issues. Because when things go well, it’s actually quite easy for someone of his level to perform. The way you handle problems is a big part of the challenge itself. I hope we won’t have many, but it will be a good learning curve for him. In terms of fundamentals, he has a very solid foundation, so we’re really looking to fine-tune the details.”

Finally, in F1 Academy, Chloe Chambers will represent the team…

“I think it’s really exciting to have an American driver representing Haas in the F1 Academy. We’re here to support Chloe in every way possible, in terms of preparation and managing the race weekend, from both a technical standpoint and preparation.”

Haas F1’s test program:

The driving duties will be split between Nico Hülkenberg and Kevin Magnussen. Magnussen will hit the track Wednesday morning (February 21) – after getting a first look at the VF-24 earlier in the week during the team’s second shakedown day, then Thursday afternoon and Friday morning. Hülkenberg will therefore drive Wednesday afternoon, Thursday morning, and Friday afternoon.

Ayao Komatsu Haas F1 Test. Ayao Komatsu Haas F1 Test. 2024 Ayao Komatsu Haas F1 Test

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