Komatsu says Haas ‘can race’ after team emerges from tyre troubles


Haas team boss Ayao Komatsu believes the US outfit now has a car that it can race following an early indication in Bahrain that the team has turned a corner regarding its chronic tyre troubles.

Throughout the 2023 season, Haas’ drivers consistently struggled to manage their tyres effectively. On race day, frequent early pit stops became a regular feature, often squandering promising grid positions.

This forced the team to prioritize tyre management during the development of their 2024 challenger, the VF-24. Extensive testing in Bahrain focused heavily on simulating long runs, with positive results that boded well for Haas’ prospects.

Furthermore, in Friday’s qualifying, Nico Hulkenberg secured a spot in the session’s top-ten shootout, eventually lining up P10 on Saturday’s grid.

Unfortunately, his race was compromised by a first-corner incident, requiring a pit stop for a new nose cone.

However, Haas's progress wasn't solely reliant on Hulkenberg. Teammate Kevin Magnussen displayed consistent pace, starting from 15th on the grid and ultimately finishing a solid 12th.

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This combined performance from both drivers suggests significant improvement in Haas's overall race form compared to the previous season.

“If somebody told me before we ran the car this year that we are fighting for points in race one, I wouldn't expect that,” commented Komatsu who took over the reins of Haas ahead of the 2024 season from former team principal Guenther Steiner.

“I know how much gain we made from when we started designing this VF-24, but I know we started late. I know we stopped for two months doing the Austin upgrade. So that's just lost time, and we are behind, right?


“But I’ve got to assume, given the same amount of time, everybody else's development rate is at least as good as us. Because we are the smallest team. So that's what I assumed.

“And then I saw something a bit different in testing, but I just didn't want to count on it. And then of course, we saw more on FP2. But again, everything was for today [the race].

“So even yesterday our target was to get both cars in Q2, which we did. And Nico did what Nico is really good at in Q2. Amazing lap, in Q3 again, but we didn't run new tyre because we needed new tyres for today.

“Unfortunately, his start wasn't great, and his race was over by Turn 1. But as you can see from Kevin's race, we can race this year now in the midfield.

“It's just there's no margin. So everything has to be perfect - which we didn't completely do today - so we can score points. But yeah, very positive.”


Komatsu acknowledged that it’s early days still for Haas. But based on the team’s performance in Bahrain’s specific high degradation environment, the early signs are encouraging.

“If anything, for me, this circuit exposes that weakness, so I was pretty happy,” he said. “Okay, track temperature is not as hot as a normal Bahrain race here. But still, midday during the testing, and then FP1, FP3, you can see the weakness. So, it's all relevant, I think.

“Of course, you get a different circuit, more medium, high-speed corners circuits like Suzuka, that will be different. I'm sure we're going to struggle more.

“And then next week, Jeddah as well, some higher-speed corners, and also lower downforce. That will be another challenge. But if I compare to where we are relative to the competition 12 months ago here, we are much more in the ballpark. We can race. So that's very positive.”

Regarding Haas’ development programme, a schedule of upgrades had already been established ahead of last weekend’s curtain raiser. But the team will likely tweak some of its planned updates based on the data it collected in Bahrain.

“I expected our car to be towards the back here in Bahrain, so that means you really have to develop aggressively,” Komatsu explained.

“So you cannot wait until you run the car. So all the things in the pipeline are the ones assuming that our winter development is in the correct direction, so we just have to keep going on that and put performance on the car.

“Now we ran the car, we understand a bit more, so we will change certain directions. But that's not going to be, let's say, in a very early part of the season.”

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