Haas’ Komatsu pays tribute to his predecessor: “I have a huge respect for Guenther and what he has achieved.”

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Photo Credits: MoneyGram Haas F1 Team

It could be said that the press release from Haas F1 Team which announced the appointment of Ayao Komatsu, Haas’ former director of engineering being promoted to team principal had one thing missing from it. Komatsu, who has been with Haas since its debut season in 2016 appeared to mention nothing about his predecessor, Guenther Steiner, in his remarks. However, through an exclusive interview with Sky F1, Komatsu has now spoken of his ‘huge respect’ for Steiner and the fact he won’t be trying to ‘replicate’ one of the sport’s most popular personalities.

The F1 offseason either tends to be a time when journalists delve deep to fill column inches or something major happens. It was very much a case of the latter seeing how Haas surprised the F1 world with the news of Komatsu replacing Steiner with immediate effect.

When analysing a season which saw Haas F1 Team finish P10 in the standings, it is probably not that much of a surprise to see team owner Gene Haas choose not to renew Steiner’s contract. After all, in two of the last three seasons the American owned F1 team has finished bottom of the pile.

Last year, Haas was well known as having a strong qualifying car but due to not getting a grip on tyre degradation would always fall away on race day.  Gene Haas was not subtle in his remarks of the season having said he was ‘embarrassed’ by the lack of performance from the team.

Remarks heard courtesy of Sky Sports F1’s exclusive interview with Komatsu at the team’s Banbury factory (the team prinicpal’s first since his new appointment) showed that he accepts the criticism.

“I was on the pit wall every single race, an hour and a half or two hours of that race. It is embarrassing to qualify [in a] half decent position and then you know that on Sunday afternoon you are going backwards because of the limitation we have.

“So, it is embarrassing. Gene’s completely right, and that’s not why we are here. So, I’m here to improve on that,”

One thing Komatsu is not at Haas to do is be the replacement for the Steiner personality which is now lost from the F1 paddock at present.

“I am never going to try and replicate Guenther Steiner,” stated Komatsu. “Guenther is a very unique human being and I had a very, very good working relationship, and outside of work we got on really well together.

“Guenther has done a lot for this team. He set the team up to start off with, so I have a huge respect for Guenther and what he has achieved. So, I try to improve on what he has left here,”

With that in mind, what does Komatsu feel he can bring to the team following this appointment and how does he differ from the style of his predecessor?

“I see certainly things slightly in a different way and slightly different approach which I’m sure even with certain constraints we have got in this team I believe we can do a better job,” Komatsu claimed. “We can improve quite a lot in various areas and if I didn’t think that, I wouldn’t have accepted the job.”

Komatsu is not filling the seat of the formerly named Steiner Ship without lofty ambition and he is aware that a target has been set for him but did not elaborate further. The first challenge must surely be to move forwards and not be stuck at the bottom of the table again. As the saying goes, when you are bottom the only way is up. Komatsu for his part agreed: “It’s a competition so nobody enjoys being last. Of course, we can only improve from that.”