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Haas F1's 2024 'Race Car' Boosts Team Morale Komatsu

Haas F1’s 2024 ‘Race Car’ Boosts Team Morale: Komatsu

06/04/2024

In 2024, Haas F1’s unveiling of a new ‘race car’ has significantly uplifted team spirit, reveals director Ayao Komatsu, marking a positive shift in morale and performance.

At Suzuka, Ayao Komatsu, Haas F1’s director, faces his first home race, aiming to navigate the team through strategic advancements.

The Japanese executive is experiencing his first home race in such a capacity and is naturally making the most of the event.

“We’ve been met with a really warm and pleasant welcome. Yes, everyone has been very positive and joyful, for which I am thankful.”

It has been just over three months since Komatsu took the helm of the American team, marking an opportune moment for him to provide an initial interim review before the Formula 1 season’s fourth race this Sunday.

“How to assess it? Yes, we’re making progress. It’s hard to say if it’s fast enough or not, but change can only happen at a certain pace, right? So, I’m focusing on what’s ahead, trying to make gradual improvements as swiftly as possible, yet at a pace that’s realistic. So yes, I believe we’re progressing well, at a pace we can maintain, in a way.”

With Haas F1 currently sitting seventh in the constructors’ championship after a strong start to the season, one might imagine that the mood internally is better than it was a few months ago…

“Clearly, last year was quite challenging because we simply didn’t have a competitive car. Whatever we did, we knew we couldn’t compete on Sunday. Whereas this year, I think communication is better. We’re working better as a team. Plus, we had clear objectives, a strategy for pre-season testing. Again, this helped the team to unite.”

“And then having a competitive car, you know, race settings, everyone’s on a closed circuit trying to make improvements. Even in Australia, after the qualifications, if it was last year, we knew there was nothing to be done on Sunday, but this time, everyone was pumped because we knew we could race on Sunday, position ourselves to score points. So, it’s positive.”

It’s also in the development of the VF-24 where the team’s progress will be judged this year. Komatsu explains that one shouldn’t expect major overhauls, but rather subtle innovations at certain races.

“I mean, we’re not bringing in big changes. If you will, it’s more, again, smaller updates. So, we’ll have a quick update very soon.”

Komatsu aims to “keep feet on the ground” and still targets the eighth position

With the season off to a very promising start, Komatsu, however, does not wish to shift his goal: targeting the eighth place in the championship by year’s end remains the aim.

“I believe it remains an ambitious goal. You know, looking at our competitiveness, we are indeed seventh in the championship at the moment, but the development race is coming, and we all know we are the smallest team. So, for me, achieving eighth place this year would be a huge challenge, and we need to stay grounded and be realistic.”

Impressive a few weeks ago in Jeddah, Oliver Bearman will soon be in the Haas car during some Free Practice 1 sessions, as confirmed by Komatsu.

“Yes, that’s true. He will be in our car for FP1 in Imola. It will be the first time. Then, we will have him drive six times this year. I’m looking forward to seeing him in action.”

The Japanese also indicates that he is particularly enjoying his new role at Haas, where he acts both as an engineer and a team manager.

“Of course, I was a lead engineer before, so I was already doing some management as well. And now I see the bigger picture, but it’s something I really enjoy. But I’m not doing it alone. We have very competent people around me providing a lot of support. I’m very thankful for that. And honestly, what I enjoy the most is the teamwork. Really, when I see that we are giving people responsibilities, opportunities, and they rise to the occasion and thrive, I find it very rewarding. So, it’s a very good thing.”

And returning to the track, Komatsu does not expect an easy Grand Prix for his team.

“We knew we were going to have difficulties in the first sector here, because it’s the weakness of our VF-24 at the moment. It’s about managing that and qualifying as well as possible. Then, as in Australia, we want to race at our best level and position ourselves to score points if something happens at the front.”

Haas F1's 2024 'Race Car' Boosts Team Morale Komatsu

Haas F1’s 2024 ‘Race Car’ Boosts Team Morale: Komatsu. Haas F1’s 2024 ‘Race Car’ Boosts Team Morale: Komatsu.

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