Magnussen and Hulkenberg praise Komatsu for creating “very healthy” and “positive” atmosphere at Haas F1

Photo Credit: MoneyGram Haas F1 Team
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The big shock on the team bosses’ side during the winter break was the decision of Gene Haas not to renew Guenther Steiner’s contract with the team. The Italian-American had been Team Principal of Haas from its first race in 2016 right through to the 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Trackside Engineering Director Ayao Komatsu was promoted into the team principal role as Haas decided a leader was required who has experience in the technical side of the sport.

The America-owned team finished last in the Constructors’ Championship last season as horrendous tyre wear hampered their races throughout the campaign.

Haas focused on long runs in testing as they tried to get on top of their tyre woes. It has paid off handsomely so far.

In both Bahrain [hard on tyres] and Saudi Arabia [gentle on tyres], Haas showed extremely encouraging performance regarding race pace and tyre wear. Hulkenberg also made Q3 at Sakhir.

Although Magnussen did not want to be drawn into how Komatsu does things in comparison to how Steiner ran the show, the Danish driver admitted the change has boosted the engineers and mechanics, and he believes the squad is in a very good place.

“I think… just a very open conversation [with Komatsu]. I don’t really want to compare to Guenther all the time because it’s in the past and we’re just looking ahead.

“And I think the atmosphere in the team is very healthy at the moment. I think the engineers are super motivated.

“I feel it in the garage too. The boys there, it’s kind of like a fresh outlook, a fresh start in a way.

“And I think that’s given everyone a bit of hope, I guess, and a bit of a boost. A feeling like there’s a new opportunity.

For Nico Hulkenberg, the Japanese engineer taking over as Team Principal is a positive for the team and brought fresh energy to the squad, as well as bringing promising plans for Haas beyond 2024.

“Yeah, obviously he didn’t have to settle or get to know the team, but I think he settled in well into his new position. He got thrown in the cold water, definitely.

”Obviously, a lot of new responsibilities and things he has to do now that are new to him. But so far, I think he’s doing a very good job taking it all in, looking for the fastest way to performance.

“But then also medium and long term, he’s got a lot of interesting and good ideas.

“So, yeah, it’s quite refreshing and feels positive so far.”

The comments from the Dane and German back up what the team’s new Technical Director Andrea De Zordo said during pre-season. The Italian had stated that the employees based in the UK and Italian factories are working much closer together since the Japanese engineer took the reigns.

Following the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Haas sits P6 in the standings thanks to Hulkenberg’s point and Magnussen’s tactical masterclass in Jeddah.