The MoneyGram Haas F1 team has appointed Ayao Komatsu as its new team principal. Günther Steiner is leaving the organization with immediate effect, after leading its activities for the past ten years. Promoted from his role as Director of Engineering, Komatsu has been with the team since its debut season in 2016, where he started as Chief Race Engineer.
Haas confirmed the news himself on the team’s website. Komatsu has more than twenty years of experience in Formula 1, both on the technical side and in management. The 47-year-old Japanese started his Formula 1 career with British American Racing, also known as BAR, before working for Renault for a longer period of time. Komatsu has been active for Haas since 2016.
Haas thanks Steiner for services rendered
Team owner Gene Haas reflected on Steiner’s departure in a statement. “I would like to start by thanking Günther Steiner for all his hard work over the past ten years and I wish him the best for the future,” said Gene Haas. ‘As an organization it was clear that we had to improve our performance on the track. By appointing Ayao Komatsu as team boss, we have fundamentally placed technology at the center of our management,” Haas indicates that Steiner has fallen victim to the disappointing performance.
“We have had some successes, but we must be consistent in delivering results that help us achieve our goals as an organization. We need to be efficient with the resources we have, but improving our design capabilities is the key to success as a team. I look forward to working with Ayao to fundamentally ensure we maximize our potential. This appointment reflects our desire to operate at a high level in Formula 1.
Haas cannot live up to expectations in Formula 1
Steiner started his Formula 1 career in 2001 with Jaguar, which was acquired by Red Bull Racing at the end of 2004. Steiner accepted the invitation from the Austrian energy can manufacturer, with Steiner playing a role in management. At the end of 2008, Steiner left for NASCAR in partnership with Red Bull founder Dietrich Mateschitz.
In the United States, Steiner got to know team owner Gene Haas better, and the South Tyrolean was appointed team boss when Haas founded a Formula 1 team in 2016. The team got off to a flying start in 2016, immediately finishing sixth and fifth in the opening races, and finished fifth among the constructors in 2018.
Things have gone downhill for the American team since then. In 2019 and 2020, Haas finished ninth and penultimate, while 2021 delivered a disastrous season, with no points for Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin. 2022 saw a temporary revival with eighth place, but in 2023 Haas was again bottom, with few prospects for improvements. Upgrades have been introduced only sporadically in recent years and have not always worked as desired, and it now appears that the outspoken team boss is being held responsible for the lack of results.
Technical director is also leaving
Earlier in the day it was announced that technical director Simone Resta is also leaving Haas, reportedly out of dissatisfaction. Rumors about Steiner’s departure leaked earlier in the day, as the Italian’s name had disappeared from the team’s website, where only the names of team owner Gene Haas, drivers Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hülkenberg, and reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi could be found.