Komatsu counters Steiner: Haas honest about 2024 prospects

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Haas team principal Ayao Komatsu has refuted claims made by the team's former boss, Guenther Steiner, that he purposefully played down ahead of the start of the F1 season the US outfit’s prospects for the first part of 2024.

So far this year, Haas has performed well above expectations, with the team scoring points in Saudi Arabia and in Australia, and just missing out on a top-ten finish last weekend in Japan.

The team’s VF-24 car has displayed solid one-lap pace but more importantly, Haas appears to have solved its chronic tyre degradation issues that often undermined in the past the efforts of its drivers on race day.

In Melbourne, Steiner asserted that Haas' positive start to 2024 wasn’t a surprise in his view given the wind tunnel numbers he had seen before his exit from the team earlier this year.

"They did a good job and I always told Gene Haas that I actually had it right on where they ended up to be, because I knew the numbers from the wind tunnel," said the Italian who has returned to the F1 paddock in his capacity as a TV consultant and an ambassador for the Miami Grand Prix.

In contrast, Komatsu sought to temper expectations upon assuming the role of team principal. Steiner was critical of his successor’s approach.

Former Haas team principal Guenther Steiner.

"I think in the beginning they played it down to have an excuse to start off with and then it was better than they expected,” Steiner added.

“That is for me wrong to do. And I think everybody was convinced it was this path, I was convinced that's what it was.”

In reaction to Steiner’s comments, Komatsu clarified that the data he examined accurately reflected the team's circumstances. He also noted the challenge of accounting for the performance drops of Haas’ rivals, like Alpine.

“If you look at the data from the wind tunnel, it’s just a number,” Komatsu explained, quoted by Motorsport-Magazin.

“I knew the figure and knew how much we had improved. Nevertheless, I had to assume that all the other teams had improved by at least the same amount or more.

“We started development late, we had to stop for two months because of the Austin upgrades and we are also the smallest team.

“It’s not like we have advanced methods, and I’m sure everyone else is just as smart as us on average.”

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