New Haas team principal Ayao Komatsu has outlined behind-the-scenes changes that are taking shape in the post-Guenther Steiner era.
Komatsu was promoted to the role of team boss after Steiner’s contract was not renewed by team owner Gene Haas, making him only the second person in the team principal’s chair in their history.
Having fallen to the bottom of the Constructors’ Championship last season, work is ongoing to make sure the team start off on the right foot in 2024 – thought Komatsu admitted they are likely to feature in the lower reaches of the grid come the start of the season.
Haas team boss reveals post-Guenther Steiner changes with ‘barriers’ removed
The continued fallout from the announcement of Lewis Hamilton’s move to Ferrari and the rejection of Andretti’s bid to enter Formula 1 perhaps clouded the launch of the VF-24 on Friday, with Haas having unveiled a slightly tweaked livery compared to their 2023 car.
While the colours have changed slightly compared to last season, the infrastructure at the higher levels of the team has undergone a much more substantial adjustment.
Explaining exactly what changes have been made behind the scenes at Haas, Komatsu said: “Our new technical director is Andrea De Zordo. He was the chief designer previously and is a very technical person. His communication is good, he’s very engaged and he listens to people, so I’m very happy about that appointment.
“We are now recruiting for our chief designer, but I believe we have good internal candidates, so we’ll look to promote internally.
“Another key position is the performance director, this is a position that wasn’t there before, but we’ve created it putting Damien Brayshaw, previously the head of vehicle performance group, into the role.
“He will oversee and drive the direction for the upgrades together with the aero department and all the other functions that analyse the full-scale car, which is trackside engineering, the vehicle performance group, tyre group etc.
“They’re the key changes – we’re getting everyone on board, talking together, and be a part of steering the ship.”
Having taken stock of where the team is over his first few weeks in the top job, Komatsu believes the first year in their new form is a chance to build upwards.
He also sees this restructuring as a chance to improve efficiency from what came before.
“Obviously it’s been busy, but it’s been really positive,” he said when asked about his opening weeks as team principal.
“Everyone I speak to sees this as an opportunity to improve. I think many people were feeling the same thing – not knowing where this team was going, how it’s going to improve.
“We need a clear target, vision and communication, and to remove certain barriers that didn’t need to be there.
“Everyone needs to understand what they’re dealing with, how this team is moving forward, and our approach towards how we’re going racing.
“I’m spending a lot of time talking with as many people as I can, sharing that approach and getting feedback.
“Obviously, I’m not trying to do this on my own, quite the opposite. We’ve got good people, so my job is providing an environment that they can flourish in and get the best out of them. Everyone is so helpful, motivated, and positive, it’s great.”