Haas owner Gene Haas admits his “biggest concern” in the aftermath of Guenther Steiner’s exit is their F1 2024 challenger, which must be “ready to go” in Bahrain.
Haas dropped a bombshell statement on Wednesday, January 10, confirming that Steiner had left the team with immediate effect, Steiner having held the team principal role since Haas joined the grid.
He was making his mark even before their debut in 2016 though, securing Gene Haas’ backing, as well as the crucial technical partnerships with Ferrari and Dallara which allow the team to go racing in F1 to this day.
Gene Haas faces nervous wait for F1 2024 Bahrain opener
The clock is ticking fast towards the start of the F1 2024 campaign, with the three-day pre-season test in Bahrain beginning on February 21; the season then gets underway on the following weekend.
With technical director Simone Resta also leaving Haas, that confirmed on the same day as Steiner’s exit, it is understandable that Gene Haas’ key concern is ensuring the VF-24 is good to go by then.
“My biggest concern is when we go to Bahrain, we need to show up with a car that is ready to go,” he said in an interview for the Formula 1 website.
At the same time that Steiner’s exit was announced, Haas confirmed their long-serving trackside engineering director Ayao Komatsu as new team principal.
Gene Haas says that while Steiner was a people person, he hopes Komatsu can deliver a more technical approach, the team having returned to the bottom of the Constructors’ Championship in 2023 with just 12 points scored.
“We looked from within, at who had most experience,” said Haas on the decision to give Komatsu the team principal position. “Ayao has been with the team since day one, he knows the ins and outs of it.
“Maybe having more of a managerial-type and engineering approach, we’ll see if that has benefits.
“I think Guenther had more of a human-type approach to everything with people and the way he interacted with people, he was very good at that. Ayao is very technical, he looks at things based on statistics – this is what we’re doing bad, where can we do better.
“It’s a different approach. We really do need something different because we weren’t really doing that well. It all comes down to eight years in, dead last. Nothing more I can say on that.”
Haas are also going to appoint a chief operating officer to assist Komatsu by handling non-competition, off-track affairs.