Haas’ New Team Principal Points Out Operational Challenges

Ayao Komatsu, Haas F1 Team's new principal, acknowledges complications of managing an F1 team across two primary bases in the UK and Italy.


By Ben Bush
Updated on January 18, 2024

Haas Team Principal Points Out Operational Challenges

Ayao Komatsu, the newly appointed principal of the Haas F1 Team, recently recognised the inherent difficulties in operating a Formula 1 team split between bases in the UK and Italy. Despite having its official headquarters in the United States, Haas’ operations are significantly divided between these two European locations.

Komatsu openly admitted that this dual-base setup is not optimal for running a Formula 1 team efficiently. He also pointed out that resolving this geographical challenge is one of several issues Haas must address to improve its operations.

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In his first media interaction since taking over from Guenther Steiner, Komatsu commented that if he were to start from scratch, establishing two separate headquarters hundreds of miles apart would not be his preferred approach.

“Of course, if you’re setting up on a blank sheet of paper, you’re not going to set up an F1 team with two separate factories in the UK and Italy, but that’s how we started and that was very beneficial in ’16, ’17, ’18 to get off the ground,” Komatsu said, as per Motorsport Magazine.

“Then of course the landscape changes, certain regulation changes happen, so the team needs to develop.

“Those kind of things we need to assess continuously. But again, if you ask me is that ideal, having a UK office here and an Italy office there? No. But is that a main constraint? No. Can we do better? Absolutely yes. So that’s what I’m focused on.

“If we get the maximum out of how we set up, and then if that becomes right, we [therefore] cannot do anything better with the way we set up [and] then we can talk about that.

“That’s my strategy, if you like. But of course you’ve got to have that, not in the back of your mind, but as a strategy medium, long-term where you might want to go. But that’s not my focus at the minute.”

Haas‘ unique team structure, featuring a base adjacent to Ferrari’s in Italy, is a result of their close association with Ferrari. However, as Haas aims to enhance its performance, the challenges posed by this geographical separation become evident. Among their rivals, only Alpine and AlphaTauri operate across two different countries, highlighting the distinct nature of Haas’ setup.

“Ideally, if you have no constraints, of course you put everybody in the same factory, right?” Komatsu continued.

“Same with designers, when certain things break it’s so important for designers to have that part in their hand. So yeah, ideally, that’s the case, but that’s not how we’re set up, and that’s not going to change in the foreseeable future.

“So again, like I said, I try to maximise what we have got to start off with, get to the absolute limitation, and then when we get to the stage where we really cannot do anything more with this set-up, and then this is the limit, then maybe there’s a discussion point.

“But at this minute, what I found is that depending on people’s capability, it depends how you know each other, if you know somebody personally well, and then this person is let’s say, technically on a certain level, I found that actually it’s fine, mostly, to work remotely.

“But when you don’t have that personal relationship, when you don’t know the person very well, or this person’s skillset or level is just below the certain level required, then it can go from absolutely fine, to absolutely not fine.

“It’s a bit case-by-case, so you cannot say a blanket statement that the separate office doesn’t work. In certain cases I’ve seen, even with the current organisation, certain areas where it works really well, with no issues whatsoever. But in certain areas, it’s a big issue. So case-by-case.”

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Ben Bush

Ben is our chief editor specialising in F1 from the 1990s to the modern era. Ben has been following Formula 1 since 1986 and is an avid researcher who loves understanding the technology that makes it one of the most exciting motorsport on the planet. He listens to podcasts about F1 on a daily basis, and enjoys reading books from the inspirational Adrian Newey to former F1 drivers.

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