Komatsu bullish on Haas trajectory

Haas team principal Ayao Komatsu is confident the VF-24 is showing all-around performance potential and so the team doesn’t need to make trade-offs to improve its competitiveness.

The opening three races have seen Haas score a point in Saudi Arabia through Nico Hulkenberg and then with both cars in ninth and 10nth last time out in Australia. While both cars started well outside the top 10 in the last race before climbing into the points, Komatsu doesn’t believe there needs to be a focus on qualifying performance with the 2024 car, after the opposite was true last year.

“The race pace is better than qualifying pace, but that’s really circuit specific,” Komatsu said. “That’s why when I was asked, ‘Do you think your tire problem is over?’ I really didn’t want to judge it until we’ve done the minimum of four races. Again in Melbourne, with qualifying and the race, it’s a more front limitation, so that presents you with a slightly different picture.


“Suzuka as the next race, with that high-speed Sector 1, that’s going to present you with different problems as well. So I don’t think we then need to suddenly concentrate on the qualifying performance, but in terms of weakness of our car it’s reasonably clear, and if we can improve that I believe it’s going to improve both qualifying and race performance. I don’t think we’re talking about a trade-off, really.”

One of the main areas Komatsu wants to see Haas improve is in high-speed corners, and he says the team has an understanding of what it needs to target.

“The big question is how do we achieve that? It’s reasonably clear what direction we need to develop the car, but do we have the capability to actually achieve that objective? That’s yet to be seen,” he admitted. “But we’ve got good people, so I’m sure we can.”

While Haas has shown strongly in the races, it’s had to do so from well back on the starting grid. Glenn Dunbar/Motorsport Images

Komatsu returns to his home grand prix in Japan as a team principal for the first time, and while acknowledging the significance, he expects a challenging weekend for the team.

“Honestly, I left Japan 30 years ago — in 1994 — and never thought I would come back as a team principal! So it’s going to be special,” Komatsu said.

“It’s going to be tough [in terms of performance] I think. If you look at our high-speed performance, it was already clear in Bahrain — Turn 6 and Turn 7 — Jeddah Sector 1 in qualifying, [Melbourne] Turn 9/10, Turn 6, Turn 12, we’re not good. Sector 1 might have a few high-speed corners in Suzuka! So that will be tough, but we will try our best of course.”

Story originally appeared on Racer