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Formula 1 Australian GP

Haas: Jeddah F1 “Unsportsmanlike” accusations were “complete bullshit”

Haas Formula 1 boss Ayao Komatsu says accusations of “unsportsmanlike” conduct by the team during the Saudi Arabian GP were “complete bullshit.”

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-24, Yuki Tsunoda, RB F1 Team VCARB 01, Esteban Ocon, Alpine A524

Kevin Magnussen’s Jeddah race had already been spoiled by a 10-second penalty for contact with Alex Albon when he passed Yuki Tsunoda while running off the circuit. The move subsequently earned him a second 10-second penalty.

He then followed orders to slow down the Japanese driver and others in the following group in order to allow team-mate Nico Hulkenberg to create a window for what was in effect a free pit stop.

After the race, the RB team called Haas’s strategy “unsportsmanlike”, while Albon – who was also among those held up – called Magnussen’s pass of Tsunoda “cheeky.”

Komatsu admits that the team didn’t realise that Magnussen had gone off-track to make the pass on Tsunoda, and stressed that had it done so it would have asked him to give the place back.

"I accept criticism,” he said when asked by Autosport. “The criticism is the fact that we as a team didn't know that Kevin overtook Tsunoda by going off the track. We just didn't know that at that time.

“So that's the criticism I totally accept, we should have known that as a team straight away. And then Kevin should have given the position back by himself anyway. But if he didn't, as a team, we should have instructed Kevin to give the position back straight away.

“And had we done that, there would be no argument, we would have overtaken Tsunoda anyway, because we had the pace.”

Ayao Komatsu, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team, talks to the press

Ayao Komatsu, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team, talks to the press

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

However, Komatsu remained unrepentant on the way Magnussen slowed the field down in order to allow Hulkenberg to pull away.

“At that point, we already had a 10-second penalty for [contact with] Albon,” he said. “So as soon as we know that we'd got a 10-second penalty by Albon, Kevin's out in terms of fighting for points, right?

“That's why he backed everybody up to get Nico to score a point. And that strategy, I don't make any apology.

“In terms of creating a gap, that's standard. Not standard, but that's the obvious thing because, if you didn't do that, you're not doing your job.”

He added: “It's obvious what we needed to do. The only chance we had was with Nico. So any team would have done the same. And if somebody says, no, no, that's unsportsmanlike - it's complete bullshit."

Having accepted that Magnussen should have given the place back Komatsu says that henceforth the team will have more people working at its Banbury factory during races tracking the onboard TV footage of its cars and listening to the radios of rivals.

That will allow the team more opportunity to tell its drivers to give a place back should it be gained via an unfair advantage.

Yuki Tsunoda, RB F1 Team VCARB 01 battles with Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-24

Yuki Tsunoda, RB F1 Team VCARB 01 battles with Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-24

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“We put [measures] into place internally to make sure that if the same thing happens, we can spot it straight away,” he said.

"It's our job to monitor the situation, which we failed to do. We are just spread out too thin in terms of the team, we've just got such limited resources.

“So it's not like other teams where they've got the mission control or whatever they call it. They have so many people monitoring everything, listening to everyone's conversation.

“We can't do that. But at least now we put a couple of people in place to follow the onboard of each driver all the time, and whoever our drivers are fighting, listening to the radio.

“Listening back to Tsunoda, he said Kevin went off the road. So if we were doing that with onboards, we should have realised straight away, Tsunoda commenting, we should have realised straight away.

“You've got a very small window to give you a position back. But there is no argument, we should have done that.”

Expanding on the new race day factory roles he said: "We've got other people supporting us, it's not like we’ve got zero people, but they are supporting us in terms of the strategy, in terms of tyre deg, etcetera.

“I'm sure some other bigger teams are listening to everyone's radio conversation, making transcripts and all sorts of things.

“We just haven't got the capacity to do that. But we have to learn from our mistakes. So that mistake was the fact that we didn't notice that straight away. We cannot make the same mistake again.”

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