New Haas team principal Ayao Komatsu believes the team has “got to grow organically” rather than chase a big step forward from major investment.
Guenther Steiner’s contract was not renewed by Gene Haas as the team owner was unhappy with recent performances, while Steiner wanted to attract fresh investment to help the team improve its infrastructure and facilities. With the majority of teams on the grid investing heavily — particularly Haas’ main rivals Williams, Stake and the newly rebranded AlphaTauri — Komatsu (pictured above with driver Kevin Magnussen) says he’s unfazed by what others are doing and feels Haas needs to take a more considered approach.
“I don’t know if I’d call it a concern,” Komatsu said. “Of course, it’s a very tough business, but I’m still very positive about what we can do with the current setup, and then as we improve on the current setup, certain things I think will become pretty obvious and natural that, OK, we need to divert slightly from our original model in this way, or we need to invest in this way.
“So that will come up naturally, rather than forcing it. I’m not here to turn the place upside down, because then the operating will stop. If we tried to suddenly to go for [changes] — even if we had massive investment straight away, we won’t be functioning properly, we won’t be using that investment properly. So you’ve got to grow organically, I think.
“OK, we were not where we should be in 2023, that’s why Gene decided to make changes,” he noted. “But you cannot then suddenly go for a huge leap, because then 2024 will be a complete disaster. We’ve got to improve the team in 2024. I see it as a transitional phase. And then whatever we learn across the course of the year in 2024, I’m sure that will help us very clearly define what we’re doing in five, eight, 10 years’ time.”
However, Komatsu also insists Haas is not only focused on 2026 as a chance to move forward, believing that team owner made a management change to show the rest of the team he wants to improve more quickly.
“Gene at the moment wants to get off the back of the grid. Obviously you saw and heard how unhappy Gene was. Of course, who’s going to be happy competing in last place? It really is embarrassing. So I think it’s positive that Gene is unhappy where we are.
“If the people in the team think, ‘OK, we’re last, and we’re not sure where we’re going. Gene doesn’t say anything, then OK, is Gene happy just making up numbers and being P10?’ That’s clearly not the case. So that’s actually motivating for everyone here. ‘OK, Gene is serious, he wants to improve the team, so let’s do it together.’”