Komatsu seeking to keep Haas in the points in 2024

Ayao Komatsu (JPN) Haas F1 Team Principal on the grid. 24.03.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 3, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Batchelor / XPB Images
© XPB 

Haas F1 team principal Ayao Komatsu believes that the squad has demonstrated that consistent top ten performances in 2024 are now realistically possible for the American outfit.

That's a huge step forward for the team, which ended last season bottom of the constructors championship with a mere 12 points. Just four races into the current season they've already secured a third of that tally.

Nico Hulkenberg picked up their first point with tenth in Saudi Arabia, and he and team mate Kevin Magnussen both finished in the top ten in Australia. That puts them seventh in the current standings ahead of Williams, Sauber and Alpine.

Although an anti-stall issue at the restart meant Hulkenberg just missed out on points in Japan, Komatsu was delighted with P11 at what has been in the past one of Haas' worst circuits.

“Suzuka, in terms of our strengths and weaknesses, this circuit really exposes the weakness of our car," commented Komatsu. "So if we can do that at this circuit, it’s positive.

“The honestly encouraging thing is we could race this much on this circuit, I wasn’t expecting that," he continued. “Nico without that disastrous start would have scored points, so that is really positive.”

Komatsu - who headed up the team's engineering department before taking over from Guenther Steiner as principal in January just weeks before pre-season testing in Bahrain - said the team had idea for further improvements.

“Ultimately, as you can see, high-speed downforce - we haven’t got enough. So that’s what we need to improve. And then certain characteristics on the front axle blocker, we need to improve.

"We are trying to bring the new parts aggressively to the future races, so that should add performance to the car," he explained this week. "That should make the whole thing better.”

It wasn't just the anti-stall issue that cost Hulkenberg a chance to make it three consecutive points finishes in a row for the team. A slow pit stop in response cost them a shot of challenging RB's Yuki Tsunoda for P10.

“It was a last-minute call. We basically reacted to Bottas [pitting]. We wanted to be on the same lap, we didn’t want to be that behind,” he noted. "They made a call, we reacted to it, but in a very short space of time so guys weren’t ready.

"Because we're the first garage in the pit entry this time around, it was kind of like worst of both cases. So we lost time, we still came out in front of Bottas but we lost two positions, which is quite frustrating.”

(L to R): Ayao Komatsu (JPN) Haas F1 Team Principal with Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas F1 Team on the grid. 07.04.2024. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 4, Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, Japan, Race Day. -, EMail: © Copyright: Moy / XPB Images

Komatsu admitted that Haas hadn't nailed the set-up of their cars for the Japanese Grand prix, and said they must do better for the next race in China at the Shanghai International Circuit.

"[In Japan in] FP1 our car balance wasn’t right, and then we had a wet session in FP2 so we lost a session, then that meant we are behind on FP3,” he said.

"It’s a similar challenge in Shanghai. It's a Sprint weekend so you have to get it right from FP1," he pointed out. “So that is a challenge for us, but we learnt a lot [in Japan] in terms of how we can improve operationally.

"Setting up the car, reacting to the situation, there’s lots and lots of things to improve," he added. “But again, with enough positives, so we focus on that, and then trying to get the start car right for Shanghai."

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