New team culture at Haas in Formula 1: Problems are discussed openly

After eight races, Haas has established itself at the top of the chasing field in Formula 1 in 2024. The team regularly fights with the Racing Bulls for the last points in the first third of the year. This fight is not easy. Mistakes are severely punished here at the back, where you are racing for the remaining points left behind by the top teams. All the better that the new Haas team boss believes he can see important developments in the team culture.

Haas and Ayao Komatsu, who took over as team boss from Günther Steiner in the winter, honestly laid bare their failures over the last two weekends. In Imola, Nico Hülkenberg failed to beat Yuki Tsunoda in the race. In Monaco, the new high-downforce rear wings were assembled incorrectly.

Hülkenberg disqualified! Why were both Haas illegal? (10:00 min.)

The first major update package also improved the VF-24, but it did not perform as expected, especially in slow corners. “But the good thing is that we are now discussing it completely openly across departments,” says Komatsu. “And the fact that we are seeing it in our analyses is very, very good compared to before.”

Haas gives an example: How the team has changed in 2024

Komatsu also uses the strategy from the Imola weekend as an example. Looking back, the team made the wrong pit stop for Kevin Magnussen’s alternative strategy. And Nico Hülkenberg’s driving style in the race was not optimized. In the end, neither of them were in a position to fight for tenth place. Although they should have been, the team believes. Komatsu describes the final meeting as tough, but very healthy: “Even if some of the things weren’t what everyone wanted to hear, nobody blocked it.”

Interview with Haas team boss Ayao Komatsu
Haas team boss Ayao Komatsu, photo: LAT Images

The case of Hülkenberg’s non-optimized race shows how important a good and analytical discussion is, in which no one is left out. “He could have done certain things better,” Komatsu points to the driver – and immediately to the team, which did not pay due attention to the issue in the middle of the race at the engineering stations, although in retrospect, the problem was clearly apparent when comparing it with Magnussen’s race. “If the team had reacted better, Nico would have known and could have corrected it.”

Completely different dynamics at Haas 2024d

For Komatsu, the new dynamic of reflection is “completely different from before.” Today, he strives to ensure that his employees always feel able to say whatever needs to be said: “From the start, I said we have good people here. It was just about making them feel safe and that it’s OK for them to be open and transparent.”

“At least that way you have the chance to understand everything, and when you understand it, you can correct it,” says Komatsu. The reflection will continue at the Canadian GP, ​​when the team wants to further evaluate the update package. The car is clearly better than at the start of the season, so it is still in the fight for the last remaining points. With a gap of 17 points to the Racing Bulls, it is more important than ever not to make the same mistake twice.

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