Guenther Steiner: Haas team principal leaves ahead of 2024 F1 season as Ayao Komatsu named as replacement | F1 News

Guenther Steiner: Haas team principal leaves ahead of 2024 F1 season as Ayao Komatsu named as replacement | F1 News

Guenther Steiner has left Haas with immediate effect ahead of the 2024 F1 season after the team’s disappointing performances.

Ayao Komatsu has been promoted from director of engineering to team principal ahead of the new season, which begins with the Bahrain Grand Prix – live on Sky Sports F1 from February 28 to March 2.

Steiner has been in charge of Haas since the team joined F1 in 2016 but the American outfit have struggled in recent seasons.

Sky Sports News understands Steiner’s contract was not renewed after it expired at the end of 2023 as the Italian and the team had different visions on the future.

“I’d like to start by extending my thanks to Guenther Steiner for all his hard work over the past decade and I wish him well for the future,” said Haas owner Gene Haas.

“Moving forward as an organisation it was clear we need to improve our on-track performances. In appointing Ayao
Komatsu as team principal we fundamentally have engineering at the heart of our management.”

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Kevin Magnussen brought out a red flag after taking a spin into the barriers during final practice for the Dutch GP – much to the anger of Guenther Steiner

Reacting to the surprise news in a post on X, Kevin Magnussen, who originally drove for the team in 2017-2020 before returning in 2022, thanked Steiner for twice signing him and said that the years had “been both fun and tremendously challenging – but never boring”.

Haas finished last in the Constructors’ Championship in 2021 with Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin as their drivers, before improving to eighth the following year, but fell to the back of the grid in 2023 despite the experience of Nico Hulkenberg and Magnussen.

Hulkenberg’s seventh place in Australia was the highlight of last year for Haas, along with Magnussen’s three 10th place finishes.

Steiner’s time in F1 comes to an end

Steiner worked in F1 long before Haas, first as managing director of Jaguar between 2001 and 2003, and during the early Red Bull years as technical operations director from 2005.

In 2016, Haas, led by Steiner, joined F1 and made an impact straight away as Romain Grosjean finished sixth in the team’s first race.

They finished eighth in the Constructors’ Championship in their first two seasons and their best campaign came in 2018 where they ended the year in fifth.

Guenther Steiner
Guenther Steiner spent eight seasons in charge of the Haas F1 team

Grosjean took fourth place at the 2018 Austrian Grand Prix with Magnussen in fifth, which remains the team’s best result. Steiner became a hit with F1 fans on Netlix’s Drive to Survive as his often flamboyant character was loved by the new audience that learned more about the sport.

However, results on the track were largely disappointing for Haas from 2019 and Steiner’s eight seasons in charge came to an end on Wednesday.

Haas Constructors’ Championship history in F1


“We have had some successes, but we need to be consistent in delivering results that help us reach our wider goals as an organisation,” continued Haas.

“We need to be efficient with the resources we have but improving our design and engineering capability is key to our success as a team. I’m looking forward to working with Ayao and fundamentally ensuring that we maximise our potential – this truly reflects my desire to compete properly in Formula 1.”

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Relive the 10 most dramatic crashes from the 2023 Formula 1 season

A big challenge ahead for Komatsu

Komatsu has been involved in motorsport since 2003, first with British American Racing (BAR), Renault and Lotus then Haas.

He was Grosjean’s race engineer at Lotus during the Frenchman’s most successful years in F1 during 2012 and 2013.

When Grosjean joined Haas in 2016, Komatsu followed as his chief race engineer. The 47-year-old will now oversee all competition elements of the business as team principal including the team’s overall strategy and on-track performance.

Ayao Komatsu is Haas' new team principal for 2024
Ayao Komatsu is Haas’ new team principal for 2024

A European-based chief operating officer will also be appointed to manage all non-competition matters and departments at Haas’ Banbury facility.

“I’m naturally very excited to have the opportunity to be team principal at MoneyGram Haas F1 team,” stated Komatsu.

“Having been with the team since its track debut back in 2016 I’m obviously passionately invested in its success in Formula 1. I’m looking forward to leading our program and the various competitive operations internally to ensure we can build a structure that produces improved on-track performances.

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Sky Sports’ Craig Slater met with former Haas team principal Guenther Steiner for Christmas lunch to chat all things F1

“We are a performance-based business. We obviously haven’t been competitive enough recently which has been a source of frustration for us all.

“We have amazing support from Gene and our various partners, and we want to mirror their enthusiasm with an improved on-track product. We have a great team of people across Kannapolis, Banbury and Maranello and together I know we can achieve the kind of results we’re capable of.”

24 races in 2024! Watch every round of next season live on Sky Sports F1, starting with the Bahrain Grand Prix from February 29-March 2. Stream every F1 race and more with a NOW Sports Month Membership

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