Undone by tyre woes last season that left Haas with just 12 points on the board despite 11 Q3 appearances, new boss Ayao Komatsu has revealed the team still does not understand the problem.
Haas finished bottom of the log in the 2023 season as, despite having a fast VF-23 over one lap, the car was not able to carry that pace over into Grands Prix.
The team bagged 11 Q3 showings, including a P2 qualifying performance for Nico Hulkenberg at the Canadian Grand Prix, only to drop down the order in the races as the car ate the tyres.
Haas still ‘don’t’ understand 2023’s tyre troubles
Their poor performances saw Haas put a B-spec car on the track at the United States Grand Prix but it was, at best, on a par with its predecessor.
Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen failed to score a single point in the heavily-revised car leading to an “embarrassed” Gene Haas ultimately calling time on Guenther Steiner’s tenure as Haas’ team boss.
Instead, he’s put former trackside engineering director Komatsu in charge, citing the need for a more technical mind at the helm as Haas look to regain lost ground in 2024.
But worryingly for Haas, Komatsu says they’ve yet to get on top of last year’s tyres troubles.
“I don’t think we understand everything,” he said as per Motorsport.com. “I think we understand a significant part of it, but the only proof is if you can produce a car that can deal with the problem.
“I don’t like to sit here and say that we understand it 100 per cent, We don’t. But we have a decent idea of why and where we need to focus on.”
While it was suggested last season that Haas’ similarities to Ferrari’s F1 car, most notably with the rear end, could be the cause of the problems, the B-spec car in part stepped away from the Ferrari design and yet the problem persisted.
Haas need better ‘working practices’
Now the man in charge, it’s up to Komatsu to lead Haas away from the bottom of the log. But that’s easier said than done.
The new team boss believes better communication and cohesion is key.
“From ’19 to ’23, the programme is very different,” he said. “It may look the same, but it is very different. But the working practice is the core.
“If we are not working in a very integrated manner, communicating properly between the aero department in Italy to the tyre department in the UK, that is a problem.
“That working culture and practice is something I am going to focus on improving. We want to move as one.
“We’ve got a real car issue, accept it, then communicate and discuss it openly with all the relevant people. And even then, if around the table there is still a disagreement from certain people, you cannot avoid that.
“I do think that disagreement is healthy, as long as everybody then knows that a decision needs to be taken. So somebody needs to take a decision and we’re going to go in this direction. That’s fine.
“But when one group says ‘I think this is a problem’ and this guy says, ‘OK fine’, and then doesn’t communicate together afterwards and keeps going in his direction, then we cannot improve. I think working practices need to improve.”