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Guenther Steiner's Haas F1 replacement Ayao Komatsu agrees team's 2023 form was 'embarrassing'

Ayao Komatsu, Haas' former director of engineering, speaks to Sky Sports about stepping into Guenther Steiner's shoes, team owner Gene Haas' strong comments on the outfit's performance, and how he hopes to improve their form in F1 2024

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New Haas team principal Ayao Komatsu says he has 'huge respect' for his predecessor Guenther Steiner, but insists he will bring his own qualities to the role.

New Haas team principal Ayao Komatsu says he will never try and imitate his "unique" predecessor Guenther Steiner but believes they can do a "better job" to move away from the back of the F1 field.

Japanese engineer Komatsu was last week handed the reigns at the team which finished 10th and last in last season's F1 standings after Gene Haas, the team's owner, decided not to renew the charismatic Steiner's contract after a decade.

Speaking at the team's Banbury factory in his first TV interview since the change was confirmed, Komatsu, who has moved up from director of engineering, told Sky Sports News: "I am never going to try and replicate Guenther Steiner.

"Guenther is a very unique human being and I had a very, very good working relationship, and outside of work we got on really well together.

"Guenther has done a lot for this team. He set the team up to start off with, so I have a huge respect for Guenther and what he has achieved. So I try to improve on what he has left here."

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In a Sky Sports exclusive, former team principal Guenther Steiner explains how his departure from Haas came about and admits he has to accept the decision

Moving Haas away from the bottom of the Constructors' Championship, where they have finished in two of the last three seasons, appears to be the key priority for Komatsu's first campaign in charge.

Team owner Haas said in an interview with F1 in the wake of Steiner's departure that he was "embarrassed" they were not doing better given their close technical partnership with Ferrari - who supply their engine, gearbox and suspension - and he "can't understand how" they can be finishing last "with all the equipment and people we have".

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Haas' 2023 campaign was repeatedly undone by its car's poor tyre management which meant some impressive top-10 qualifying performances, often achieved by Nico Hulkenberg, usually came to nothing over the longer race distance.

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Craig Slater is joined by David Croft and former F1 world champion Damon Hill to discuss the potential reasoning behind Guenther Steiner's departure from Haas and the impact it could have on the team in the 2024 season

Although he was already a key part of the team himself, Komatsu agrees Haas' "embarrassed" remark was fair comment.

"I was on the pit wall every single race, an hour and a half or two hours of that race. It is embarrassing to qualify [in a] half decent position and then you know that on Sunday afternoon you are going backwards because of the limitation we have.

"So it is embarrassing. Gene's completely right, and that's not why we are here. So I'm here to improve on that."

Komatsu on 2024 targets: 'Nobody enjoys being last'

Komatsu, who joined the team in 2016 for its maiden F1 season, believes they have room to improve and changes can be made which allow them to do that.

"I see certainly things slightly in a different way and [with a] slightly different approach which I'm sure even with certain constraints we have got in this team I believe we can do a better job," he said.

"We can improve quite a lot in various areas and if I didn't think that, I wouldn't have accepted the job."

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Watch back Guenther Steiner's best bits from his final season as Haas boss

Asked if the owner had set him a target for 2024, a coy Komatsu replied: "In terms of the championship, yes.

"I think I'd like to communicate that internally first before I communicate it externally."

But although not elaborating on the specifics, he agreed that finishing 10th was not acceptable either.

"It's a competition so nobody enjoys being last," he said. "Of course we can only improve from that."

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 F1 on Sky Sports with NOW


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