Formula One team Haas, has replaced their team principal Guenther Steiner with Ayao Komatsu. This change comes as the struggling American outfit looks to improve their performance.
Steiner, who is 58 years old, had been leading the team since it joined F1 in 2016. He gained significant popularity for his lively outbursts on the popular Netflix show ‘Drive to Survive’.
The news was confirmed on Thursday morning by team owner Gene Haas, who expressed gratitude to Guenther Steiner for his decade of hard work and wished him well for the future.
But he also said, that it is evident that Haas must enhance their on-track performances in the future.
Since joining F1, Haas has yet to achieve a podium finish. Their best result was Romain Grosjean’s fourth place in Austria in 2018.
In the last season, Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen earned a total of 12 points for Haas, resulting in the team finishing 10th and last in the constructors’ championship.
Magnussen took to X to thank his now former boss:
Thanks, Günther. Thanks for taking me on the journey in 2017 and thanks for bringing me on board again in 2022. It has been both fun and tremendously challenging – but never boring. So long and all the best 👊 @HaasF1Team pic.twitter.com/7xcmYeZRbY— Kevin Magnussen (@KevinMagnussen) January 10, 2024
The decision has surprised the F1 community and brings up concerns about the future of Haas.
“In appointing Ayao Komatsu as team principal we fundamentally have engineering at the heart of our management,” said team owner Gene Haas.
Komatsu, aged 47, now assumes the position after previously serving as the trackside engineering director.
He is now responsible for the team’s strategy and performance, aiming to maximize their potential.
“Having been with the team since its track debut back in 2016 I’m obviously passionately invested in its success in Formula One,” said Komatsu.
“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.”
The 2024 season begins with pre-season testing in Bahrain in late February, followed by the opening Grand Prix at the same track on March 2nd.