Haas reveals their 2024 F1 car and announces new technical structure under Komatsu; pessimistic about its chances at the start of the season: “Back of the grid, if not last”

Photo Credits: MoneyGram Haas F1 Team
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Haas becomes the first team to show their new car ahead of the 2024 Formula 1 season, as they revealed their new car design philosophy and a revised livery that the VF-24 will carry throughout this year. The American squad also announced a new technical structure under the leadership of Ayao Komatsu, with the appointment of a new Technical Director and the creation of the Performance Director role.

The car that the team will race with in the 2024 F1 season was presented via some digital renders on their social media platforms, with various images showing a vastly different car concept compared to last year’s, with a much more pronounced ‘downwash effect’ on the sidepod and side-impact structure proving to be a continuation of the work the team had started with its late-season major upgrade in 2023.

Notably, the car also features a lot less white paint than its predecessor, especially when looking at it head-on from the front – probably indicating the team has yet to reach the weight limit of 798 kg and is looking for gains in the form of reducing the amount of paint on the car in favour of bare carbon fiber – a trend that’s been growing up and down field since the start of 2022, see the 2023 Mercedes W14 as the biggest example of that.

Photo Credits: MoneyGram Haas F1 Team

Interestingly, the team has opted to make the presence of the United States flag more prominent at the front of its car, compared to what was a very small and laterally placed flag on the 2023 machine – an interesting development considering the latest news regarding another American team on the grid.

Team owner Gene Haas believes the team will “soon” see the benefits of the change in personnel made in the off-season, which not only includes the sacking of long-standing team principal Guenther Steiner, but also a shake-up in the team’s technical department after Ayao Komatsu, former trackside engineering director, stepped up to the team principal role.

He also stressed how an experienced driver line-up of Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen will ensure the team has a “great pair of hands” driving the VF-24:

“I’m looking forward to seeing the VF-24 running and racing – a sentiment I know I share with our partners and indeed the entire team,” said Haas. “In Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen, we also know we’ve got a great pair of drivers behind the wheel, their experience will prove invaluable again as we develop our program through the year.

“We’ve used the off-season to put the processes in place to be better and ultimately improve our overall performance. Soon we get to see how we’re doing.”

Newly appointed team principal, Ayao Komatsu is keeping his feet on the ground regarding the performance of the team’s new challenger, saying the team is “realistic” with its expectations and outlining that there’s “a lot of work” ahead of them in order to get the car more competitive relative to its rivals:

“We’re realistic about our expectations for the VF-24 to start but it’s still an exciting moment in any Formula 1 season to showcase the car,” said Komatsu. “There’s a lot of work ahead of us to make progress and increase our performance but everyone here is highly motivated and eager to get on track with the VF-24.

“I know we’ll be maximizing our time in Bahrain with all the various items we need to push through. Bottom line, we can’t wait to get going and get the season underway.”

Photo Credits: MoneyGram Haas F1 Team

The Japanese revealed for the first time what the new technical structure at Haas will look like, with the appointment of Andrea De Zordo as Technical Director, promoting him from his previous Chief Designer role – which in itself is vacated now, with a replacement to be found “internally” according to Komatsu – and the creation of the Performance Director role which will be filled by Damien Brayshaw, who was the team’s Head of Performance Group.

“Our new Technical Director is Andrea De Zordo. He was the Chief Designer previously and is a very technical person. His communication is good, he’s very engaged and he listens to people, so I’m very happy about that appointment. We are now recruiting for our Chief Designer, but I believe we have good internal candidates, so we’ll look to promote internally.

“Another key position is the Performance Director, this is a position that wasn’t there before, but we’ve created it putting Damien Brayshaw, previously the Head of Vehicle Performance Group, into the role. He will oversee and drive the direction for the upgrades together with the aero department and all the other functions that analyze the full-scale car, which is trackside engineering, the Vehicle Performance Group, Tire Group etc.

“They’re the key changes – we’re getting everyone on board, talking together, and be a part of steering the ship.”

However positive the changes may be, there was a damning admission in Komatsu’s car launch Q&A, as he once again reiterated he expects the car to be towards the “back of the grid” if not last in terms of performance at the season opener in Bahrain due to the tea, having to divert resources to its late-season Austin upgrade last year:

“Out of the gates in Bahrain, like I said, I still think we’re going to be towards the back of the grid, if not last,” he admitted. “Since I’ve become Team Principal, I’ve spent a lot of time talking to managers – both in the UK and Italy – and they’re excited because it’s an opportunity to improve and there are areas of improvement everywhere.

“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 really diverted resource, so we lost time there,” he explained. “But the team is finding good gains in the wind tunnel so that’s positive and in terms of characteristics, it’s going in the right direction.

“One of the things that we changed was how we shape the organizational structure so that as a team we work as one to understand the car and how to improve it. I’d like to think the very first thing we’ll see from the impact of this change will be the [first] upgrade on the car.”

Photo Credits: MoneyGram Haas F1 Team

And whilst admitting that the Austin update hurt its development path for 2024, the 48-year-old said the team’s new design philosophy is just a continuation of what was seen in Austin, but without the constraints of the side-impact structure that they had to face in 2023:

“In terms of physical changes, as everyone knows, when we made the upgrade in Austin that was the concept towards this year’s car – but because we had the physical limitation of the side impact structure, rad-duct arrangement, and cooling arrangement, we couldn’t do the full-blown VF-24-type-concept.

“I knew exactly where we were going for this year, but everyone saw a preview in Austin.”

The VF-24 will take to the track for the first time in a shakedown at Silverstone on the 11th of February with Hulkenberg behind the wheel, 10 days before the start of the pre-season tests at Bahrain.

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