Two rookies 'a welcome challenge' says Haas' Komatsu

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Haas F1's chief race engineer Ayao Komatsu says he welcomes the challenge of having two rookie drivers in the line-up for 2021.

The team parted company with Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen at the end of last season and opted to sign up Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin to replace them.

The pair have yet to finish in the points in the first six rounds of the year, and Mazepin has ruffled a few feathers with his on-track actions and off-track comments

Even though the team has already dropped development on this year's VF-21 in favour of concentrating on 2022, Komatsu is positive about how things are going.

“It’s been challenging, but in a good way,” Komatsu insisted. “For both of them, in every single weekend there is something they can learn.

"If you have a driver who has regularly been on podium, they expect the car to be decent. Having this car would be very frustrating.

"Of course Mick and Nikita would love a better car, but that’s not the end of the world right now. They are just focusing on getting the best out of the package.

"The pressure is off for them as they are not in the limelight, not fighting for points or podiums," he explained.

"They can focus on improving themselves, learning the car, learning how to run a session, looking at data and working engineers.”

Last year's campaign concluded with the team earning just 29 points overall despite the experience of Grosjean and Magnussen who has 298 race starts between them.

Mick Schumacher (GER) Haas VF-21 leads team mate Nikita Mazepin (RUS) Haas F1 Team VF-21. 23.05.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Monaco Grand Prix, Monte Carlo

Switching to a driver line-up with zero GP starts coming into Bahrain feels like a new start for the American squad which made its F1 bow in 2016.

“We knew that this year would be a tough year," Komatsu told the official website last week. "We had to stop our programme last year because of the pandemic.

"The company was in quite a difficult situation,” he conceded. “That meant the starting point to work on this year’s car was so late.

"So we decided to cut our losses. We know this year will be a transition year, we have got to deal with what we have got, and pump everything into next year’s car.

"We are still behind in some aspects for next year and that is even when we are focusing 100 percent on next year’s car.

“Will it put us straight back into the midfield or not? I don’t think it’s going to be that easy. We are starting from a compromised position.

"We can focus on working with two new drivers, trying to get best out of them, trying to make them understand what the car behaviour is like, and trying to improve where we can.

"It’s almost like we are starting to build a new team now," he added.

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