Komatsu: Understanding tyres is priority at Haas

Jaden Diaz
20 Feb, 2024

Haas team principal Ayao Komatsu wants to establish realistic expectations for his personnel ahead of pre-season testing. Consistent with his messaging throughout winter, Komatsu is under no illusions about where his team is.

Although the winter break can be a time of optimism for F1 teams, this cannot be said for Haas. Perhaps more so than any other season, the American squad is downplaying expectations before the first round.

After spending the 2023 campaign struggling with tyre wear, questions are being asked about the team’s capacity for development.

Last year’s tyre problems, after all, were a persistent problem that went unaddressed. It could even be argued that when the season began, there were races (Jeddah, Miami, Australia) where things seemed more under control.

However, the situation heading into 2024 is clearly sub-optimal. Newly-appointed team principal Ayao Komatsu faces the challenge of pushing last year’s 10th-place team up the field.

Unfortunately for the 48-year-old, the team must contend with limitations:

“Our Bahrain test programme is completely focused on generating relevant data.

“So that our engineers can understand what’s happening to the car and what’s happening to the tyres. 

“Then we decide, if we have good quality data, on the conclusion of how to improve it. Then we decide a different direction [based] on that.”

Haas F1 Team filming day, Silverstone, Nico Hulkenberg, Haas VF-24

In short, Haas will focus on tyre behaviour and characteristics in pre-season. Pure performance will be a secondary objective for Komatsu’s personnel.

Taken in isolation, this seems a reasonable approach. It seems counter-productive to waste resources on lap time that will inevitably evaporate on race day.

Still, Formula 1 does not operate in a vacuum. Every action has a consequence, and so Haas are evaluated based on a multi-year time span.

This means there will be an inherent scepticism about their ability to develop the VF-24 effectively.

2024 will be a test of whether Haas can avoid their traditional trajectory of stagnating (and therefore losing ground to rivals) in F1’s development race.