Ayao Komatsu has insisted he is “not trying to be Guenther Steiner” after replacing the F1 fan favourite as Haas team principal last week.
Haas announced last Wednesday that Steiner had parted company with the team, with Komatsu’s promotion to team boss confirmed in the same statement.
The switch comes after Haas finished bottom of the F1 Constructors’ Championship for the second time in three years in 2023, with Steiner exiting after 10 years in charge.
Haas boss keen to step out of Guenther Steiner’s shadow
Komatsu is a long-serving member of the Haas team, having followed star signing Romain Grosjean from Lotus to the F1 newcomers back when the American outfit arrived on the grid in 2016.
With owner Gene Haas claiming the team are in need of an engineering mentality following Steiner’s exit, rookie team boss Komatsu is adamant he has no interest in replicating his predecessor’s approach.
He told the official F1 website: “Of course, I’m not trying to be Guenther Steiner.
“He’s a very different person. We got on, honestly, really, really well. We respect each other, we respect each other’s positions and job roles during work and off work as well.
“We used to go to dinner quite a lot as well over a race weekend – not to talk about work but because we got on pretty well. But I’m not here to replace Guenther Steiner as a character.
“He’s a very different character and he has got very different strengths and weaknesses to me.
“I’m not trying to be someone else and Gene knows that and if Gene wanted a Guenther Steiner replacement in that way, he would have appointed somebody else.
“So I understand that Gene wants something different and I will try to be the best version of myself rather than trying to be somebody else.”
Steiner became a household name due to his foul-mouthed rants on Drive to Survive, the highly successful F1-themed Netflix docuseries.
And Komatsu has offered hope to fans that a small part of Steiner’s legacy will live on, adding: “This is not something I’m proud to say! My language is not great, I swear way too much. But, again, I try not to do that.”
The Tokyo-born boss revealed his appointment has been warmly received, with Grosjean among those sending well wishes to Komatsu since his promotion to team principal.
He said: “I’m really overwhelmed by the positive support I’ve been given. Everyone’s been really positive, excited, supportive, so I’m really excited about what we can improve with the people we have here.
“I know that there’s so many talented, high-quality guys here so I really wanted to provide them with the environment and framework so that they can show their best. So I’m really excited.”