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Gene Haas “embarrassed” by his team’s poor F1 form

Gene Haas says he’s “embarrassed” that his Formula 1 team has not been more competitive given its close relationship with supplier Ferrari.

Gene Haas, Owner and Founder, Haas F1, Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1

The American has also opened up on his reasons for not renewing the contract of team principal Guenther Steiner, and for promoting Ayao Komatsu to the role rather than taking on an outsider.

The team announced the shock changes on Wednesday, while also confirming that technical director Simone Resta had left.

Ferrari supplies the team with not just a power unit and gearbox but also suspension and other mechanical items that the FIA regulations allow teams to share.

However, while the works outfit had a car that logged pole positions and won the only race of 2023 that didn’t fall to Red Bull, Haas tumbled to the bottom of the pecking order.

“Ferrari has been very good to us,” Haas told the Formula 1 website. “They have been with us since day one, they build incredible engines. Their suspension is extremely good. We have been using a lot of their hardware.

“It works really well. They really do help us. I’m embarrassed that we haven’t been able to do better with it, but going forward, I want to take advantage of good equipment that a lot of other teams don’t have.

“Things are going to get a lot more competitive. Red Bull have AlphaTauri, we’re starting to see these relationships evolve, and I think the competition is going to be very intense, so having a partner like Ferrari is going to be very important.”

Ayao Komatsu, Haas F1 Team

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Ayao Komatsu, Haas F1 Team

He added: “I talk to a lot of the engineers, and I think our biggest failing is aero; our aero programme needs work. When you’re at the track and you’re humiliated every weekend, I’m going to stop taking that one anymore.”

Expanding on the departure of Steiner, he insisted that changes were needed in an attempt to raise the team’s level.

“It came down to performance,” he said. “Here we are in our eighth year, over 160 races – we have never had a podium. The last couple of years, we’ve been 10th or ninth.

“I’m not sitting here saying it’s Guenther’s fault, or anything like that, but it just seems like this was an appropriate time to make a change and try a different direction, because it doesn’t seem like continuing with what we had is really going to work.

“I like Guenther, he’s a really nice person, a really good personality. We had a tough end to the year. I don’t understand that, I really don’t. Those are good questions to ask Guenther, what went wrong. At the end of the day, it’s about performance. I have no interest in being 10th anymore.”

Haas is convinced that Komatsu has the right skill set to turn the team around.

“We looked from within, at who had most experience,” says Haas. “Ayao has been with the team since day one, he knows the ins and outs of it.

“My biggest concern is when we go to Bahrain, we need to show up with a car that is ready to go. Maybe having more of a managerial-type and engineering approach, we’ll see if that has benefits.

“I think Guenther had more of a human-type approach to everything with people and the way he interacted with people, he was very good at that.

“Ayao is very technical, he looks at things based on statistics – this is what we’re doing bad, where can we do better. It’s a different approach.

“We really do need something different because we weren’t really doing that well. Like I said, it all comes down to eight years in, dead last. Nothing more I can say on that.”

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-23

Photo by: Erik Junius

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-23

Asked why he didn’t look outside, given that former team bosses such as Mattia Binotto and Otmar Szafnauer are currently on the sidelines, Haas insisted that he preferred to promote from within.

“I’ve been running Haas Automation for over 40 years now,” he said. “Bringing people in from the outside, it takes them time to learn, six months to a year, and a lot of time you don’t even like them.

“It’s better to take people you know, and even if they are not the perfect fit, at least you know what you’re going to get.

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“That’s really worked out pretty well for us here at Haas Automation, so I’m really applying a lot of the building blocks that were here to the Formula 1 team.

“I really like to have people that I know, who understand the day-to-day operations, understand the people, rather than bringing in a stranger who is going to stir everything up and create a mess.”

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