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Magnussen: New Haas F1 boss dynamic will avoid “unrealistic optimism”

Kevin Magnussen says that a changed dynamic under new Haas Formula 1 team principal Ayao Komatsu has seen the US-owned team refrain from “unrealistic optimism” heading into the new season.

Ayao Komatsu, Team Principal of Haas F1 Team

Photo by: Haas F1 Team

Komatsu was named in the top job after Gene Haas declined to renew the contract of former boss Guenther Steiner, whose departure was confirmed last month.

When announcing the decision, Haas made it clear that he wanted to have engineering “at the heart” of the team management.

Having worked with Komatsu since he joined the team in 2017, Magnussen already has a “good relationship” with the new boss and says the reshuffle has been “been a big change in our team” that he expects will shift the “dynamic and communication across the whole organisation”.

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But after a difficult 2023 season, which saw Haas finish last in the world championship, Magnussen accepts there is no reason to expect an immediate improvement in form and says Komatsu isn't getting carried away.

“Expectations are being managed quite well this year,” he said.

“I think some years there has been some unrealistic optimism going into seasons, and I’ve been affected by it as well.

“Certainly, Ayao is very clear that he doesn’t think we’ve moved out of last year’s position yet, but he’s clear in that he sees the development trajectory looking a lot stronger, so he’s actually optimistic that we can move forward through this year.

“The entire field is so close together, and I think last year we completely ran into a wall in terms of development.

Ayao Komatsu, Chief Engineer, Haas F1 Team, Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team, on the Sprint grid

Ayao Komatsu, Chief Engineer, Haas F1 Team, Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team, on the Sprint grid

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

“We couldn’t really break that barrier until we shifted the concept, and this year is looking a lot better.

“Expectations are low to begin with, but high for the season as a whole.”

Magnussen’s team-mate Nico Hulkenberg has spent less time working with Komatsu, having joined Haas in 2023, but the German agrees that the new technical focus will be different.

“My relationship with Ayao is pretty good,” he said.

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“Obviously, I worked closely with him last year across the season. I think we have a big change on that side, but it’s interesting.

“There are other teams that have done a similar thing, putting technical people in the team principal role, and that has worked quite well for other teams. 

"I think Ayao will work in his way, but I think he brings a lot of technical knowledge and know-how expertise to the table.”

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