Haas team boss cautiously optimistic about opportunities in Melbourne: ‘That will be a challenge’

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Haas team boss cautiously optimistic about opportunities in Melbourne: 'That will be a challenge'

The Haas team travels to Australia with surprising optimism, after the first two race weekends of 2024 went exceptionally well for the American racing team. Team boss Ayao Komatsu in particular is looking forward to the race in Melbourne, while drivers Nico Hülkenberg and Kevin Magnussen are also looking forward to an Australian party to complete their start to the season.

Haas mainly stood out in Saudi Arabia for their special strategy, in which they almost sacrificed Magnussen to secure points for Hülkenberg, but in the end the numbers don’t lie: thanks to a daring choice, they are now sixth in the constructors’ championship with one point in your pocket. It has not escaped anyone’s attention over the past two race weekends that the American racing team, under new team boss Komatsu, appears to be taking a small step in the right direction.

Komatsu hopes to continue its upward trend in Melbourne

The Japanese himself is especially satisfied with the progress that the team showed in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. “During the test days we mainly focused on our race pace,” Komatsu emphasized in the Haas preview. ‘I think that after the first two races, on completely different circuits in completely different conditions, we can be very satisfied with the progress we are showing.’ Yet the team boss also knows that the real conclusions can only be drawn after the first four to five races.

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ayao komatsu haas winter test bahrain 2024
That one point that Hülkenberg scored in Saudi Arabia naturally leaves us wanting more. (Photo: Haas F1 Media)

That is why Komatsu is also looking forward to the Australian Grand Prix, where everything will be different again. ‘The level of downforce is very similar to the level in Bahrain, but it is a completely different track. Below those high speeds there are more limits involved, and all corners become different as a result. But as far as the car’s set-up is concerned, we will focus on long runs anyway.’ However, the team boss remains cautious in his predictions, especially given Haas’ previous performance in Melbourne. “We haven’t seen any serious tire wear yet this year, but it will be a challenge we will face in Melbourne.”

Drivers cherish special memories

The drivers are also looking forward to the race in Melbourne, especially after the good results in the first two races. “Everyone saw how much effort it takes to score points in midfield, so working together was really crucial,” Hulkenberg emphasized. ‘Now I’m especially looking forward to Melbourne, because I have many positive memories of that special atmosphere there. Still, I’m sure it will be a difficult battle to gain positions.’ Magnussen also shares his teammate’s opinion: ‘It is always special to return to Melbourne, because of course I have very special memories there of my first race in Formula 1.’

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