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Gene Haas

Komatsu: Gene Haas ‘doesn’t want to see the waste’ of F1 investment

Ayao Komatsu has shared Gene Haas’ initial message: ‘you guys need to show me you are using my money responsibly, then get to a certain position, then I think about the investment'

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Gene Haas reaffirms his commitment and initial investment in the team but wants results before providing further funding.

Ayao Komatsu on Haas F1 pit wall
Team Principal, Ayao Komatsu on Haas F1 team pit wall. (Image Credit: @AndyVermaut on Twitter)

The Team Principal of Haas F1, Ayao Komatsu is confident that team owner, Gene Haas will continue to invest:

“But we got to do our part, which is to use his money responsibly.”

As reported by Motorsport.com, Komatsu has shared that Gene Haas has: “commissioned a new motorhome for next year, which is not a small investment. […] And also we are now recruiting reasonably – from our size of people, a decent chunk of new recruitments is approved.”

Improvements needed

However, the team founder does not want to see his investment wasted. Gene is expecting big improvements from the team. He made changes before the 2024 season started by replacing Guenther Steiner with Komatsu as Team Principal. Steiner had been with the team since its F1 debut in 2016.

Gene Haas before practice ahead of the Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps in Spa, Belgium on July 28, 2023. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Gene Haas before practice ahead of the F1 2023 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. (Image Credit: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Komatsu has arrived with improvement ideas at the ready. He said:

“when I looked at it, then there’s so many areas we can improve.”

He added that he was “just trying to get trust back” from Gene Haas. However, Haas currently sits in P7 of the championship with four points. The only teams below them have scored zero points so far this season.

Last place in 2023

In 2023, Haas finished in last place with 12 points. Last year, Haas had some great qualifying success with their drivers Kevin Magnussen and, in particular, Nico Hulkenberg. The German driver signed with the team to replace Mick Schumacher for the 2023 season due to the team’s desire for experience over a younger driver. However, both drivers struggled to maintain race pace on the Sunday.

Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg F1
Current Haas F1 drivers Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg. (Image Credit: @HaasF1Team on Twitter)

The American outfit appears to be starting the 2024 season stronger than the previous one. The VF-24 is competitive when compared to its current midfield rivals. It is also more gentle in its use of tyres than the VF-23. Thus, the Haas drivers have remained competitive during this year’s four races, not just in qualifying sessions.

However, the team have not been without difficulties in 2024. And, when they have enjoyed success, they have also faced criticism. They were accused of unsportsmanlike behaviour after their controversial strategy in Jeddah exposed a loophole in the regulations.

Kevin Magnussen Saudi Arabia F1 2024
Kevin Magnussen was called the ‘Danish master of defence’ following his performance in Jeddah, allowing teammate Nico Hulkenberg to secure a point at the 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. (Image Credit: @HaasF1Team on Twitter)
Multiple upgrades in upcoming rounds

As reported by Formu1a.uno, Haas plans to introduce multiple upgrades in the upcoming rounds of the season. The first upgrade will be introduced at the next race this weekend in Shanghai when F1 returns to China for the first time since 2019.

Despite taking on more staff with the help of Gene Haas’ investment, the American team will need to rely on upgrades to boost their performance in the first half of this season. Komatsu explained:

“If we increased the number of people right now, it would take at least six months before they could join us. So we only focused on the things we can really control, like work efficiency.”

Haas F1 team Suzuka 2024
Haas F1 team pit crew rolling Nico Hulkenberg’s VF-24 onto the starting grid in Suzuka for the 2024 Japanese Grand Prix. (Image Credit: @HaasF1Team on Twitter)

Discussing the upgrades, he continued that the team have: “the desire to bring the updates as soon as possible but in the most effective way possible.” The team will focus on the quality and efficiency of their upgrades, over quantity.

Shanghai first, then Imola

However, initially, these upgrades will only be available to Magnussen. Haas’ first upgrade package for round five at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix is a new floor and a minor update to the bodywork side pods.

The second update will arrive in time for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in May. For round seven in Imola, they hope to bring a new front wing and further updates to the floor.

The team have defined the updates as “significant” in improving the high-speed performance of the VF-24.

Oliver Bearman is a 2025 prospect

Not only is there pressure on the team to perform, but also the current drivers. Following his impressive F1 debut at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Ferrari and Haas reserve and current F2 driver, Oliver Bearman is an attractive prospect in the 2025 driver market.

Ollie Bearman reserve driver F1
Young Brit, Oliver Bearman is an F1 reserve driver for Haas and Ferrari. (Image Credit: @f1speed_indo on Twitter)

Haas have been touted as the likely team to take on the rookie for 2025. This would mean that either Magnussen or Hulkenberg, whose contracts both finish at the end of this year’s season, could be without a seat at Haas.

However, despite the young Brit’s potential, Haas have been burned by taking on young rookies in the past. With previous driver pairing, Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin costing the team money they did not have in repair bills following crashes.

Make or break

The spotlight is now on the German and Danish drivers in the American team to impress the new Team Principal, Komatsu and main investor and owner, Gene Haas. If they can maintain current momentum and significantly improve on their 2023 last-place finish, the drivers and investment may continue into 2025.

Featured Image Credit: @Onlyfruits on Twitter

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