Komatsu “couldn’t be happier” after back-to-back F1 points but Magnussen strategy error is something “we’ve got to look into”

Photo Credits: MoneyGram Haas F1 Team
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Haas F1 Team are currently P7 in the 2024 F1 Constructors’ Championship after back-to-back races saw them score points. Meanwhile the rest of the field below them is yet to score. Unsurprisingly, Haas team principal Ayao Komatsu is delighted and told Sky Sports F1, “Amazing team effort, I couldn’t be happier.”

However, the man now leading Haas did admit Kevin Magnussen’s strategy was an error and made sure to praise his driver’s “unbelievable team play” whilst also accepting that the Danish racer has reason to be “pissed off” with the way events unfolded in Melbourne.

This year’s F1 Australian Grand Prix saw both Haas cars score points for the first time since Austria 2022. On that day Mick Schumacher came P6 and Kevin Magnussen P8, this time round Magnussen was in the points through P10 with teammate Nico Hulkenberg just ahead in P9.

Speaking to Sky Sports F1 presenter Ted Kravitz post-race, team principal Ayao Komatsu was asked ‘If one point is like a win, what’s three points like?’ His reply showed how pleased he was by the outcome but also made clear that it may have been even better.

“It’s amazing and then two races in a row [scoring points] and also qualifying you saw how we struggled. We had a good race pace now honestly just whole team effort,” stated Komatsu before praising his team further. “Amazing team effort, I couldn’t be happier.”

However, it did seem as if the team had called Magnussen into the pits at the wrong time because having done so he lost out to Alex Albon. Komatsu was proactive in his remarks and made clear that there was an error.

“If I’m honest, our race operation wasn’t completely perfect.” Komatsu continued. “We could have done one thing better but honestly I’m so happy.”

When pressed to state what that was the man now steering the Komatsu ship explained in detail but did not let it overshadow the day.

“Kevin’s first pit stop, that strategy wasn’t right, that’s something we’ve got to look into. Same with Bahrain, we can’t keep making those mistakes but honestly for the whole team I’m so happy. These guys always work hard, leave nothing undone, I’m so happy for the team.”

Melbourne was not the first time that Hass F1 Team has split strategies for their drivers as the same happened in Saudi Arabia under the lights in Jeddah. On this occasion Nico Hulkenberg ran a longer opening stint on the hard tyre compound before then having the fortune to pit for mediums under a Virtual Safety Car. Unsurprisingly, with younger tyres he was soon up behind his teammate and overtook Magnussen at ease with the Danish racer moving aside as expected.

This was the second race in a row when Magnussen has given Hulkenberg a helping hand – after his infamous slow driving in Jeddah secured a point for his German teammate. Komatsu expanded on the reason behind the Melbourne strategy and expressed sympathy for Magnussen’s situation.

“Pit stops were amazing, and then the drivers working together again during the second stint – Kev was on the hard tyre, Nico was on the medium tyre, because of the VSC,” said Komatsu. “Again, Nico had a better pace. But Kevin’s strategy was already compromised, not because of his fault – the team’s fault.

“So, Kevin had every reason to be pissed off, but then no: when we asked to swap, he’s done it straight away. So, he knows how important these opportunities are. So, just right.”

The strategical error came from the fact that the team responded to Alex Albon pitting. By Komatsu’s own admission, due to the fact that the Williams Racing driver had already undercut Magnussen, they should not have brought their man in on the next lap – but they did.

“Albon pitted,” he said. “He’s already undercut us. So, we shouldn’t have then pitted on the following lap. But we did. So, we let Albon undercut us – for no reason. Then, if you look at [Esteban] Ocon, he went longer on the first stint, and basically overcut us. So, we lost the two positions. That just is not right. We cannot be keep making those mistakes when everything in the midfield is so tight.”

The midfield is very tight and although those in the table behind Haas F1 Team are on zero points, Haas are only two points behind RB. The pace of Yuki Tsunoda was too much for Haas to cope with, but Komatsu still feels that a better strategy may have resulted in a different outcome.

“I think Tsunoda had a better pace than us,” admitted Komatsu. “But again, if we did our first round of pit stops right, and then with the pace we had on the second stint, I think we could have fought with him much, much closer.

“But just we need to put ourselves in that position first. But you know, full credit to Tsunoda, I think his pace was good today. But I feel if we’ve done the perfect job with Kevin, Kevin had the chance to fight with him until the end. That’s what we should be doing.”

Magnussen may have had more opportunity to fight with Tsunoda sooner had the approach to the race by the team differed. However, Magnussen being a team player will surely do his future prospects no harm if he hopes to be on an F1 grid in 2025. Although, he surely also wants a fair opportunity to show what he is capable of. With that in mind, Komastu responded to a question as to whether the pair of drivers would still be in the team next year.

“I haven’t thought about that. I know that driver market is very open. I need to think about that pretty soon. But at the moment, until we do the first four or five races, I’m just fully focused on working together as a team. And honestly, Kevin today, hats off to him. It’s just unbelievable team play. Really amazing.”