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Ayao Komatsu, Team Principal of MoneyGram Haas F1 Team
Ayao Komatsu, Team Principal of MoneyGram Haas F1 Team

Ahead of his first season as Team Principal at MoneyGram Haas F1 Team, Ayao Komatsu looks ahead to the three-day test in Bahrain as well as the season as a whole.

The 2024 FIA Formula 1 World Championship will be your first as Team Principal of MoneyGram Haas F1 Team. It’s been reported how the team is managing expectations going into the season, but can you go through your short and long-term objectives for the team? 

“The short-term objective really is to make incremental improvements. As I’ve said before, I believe we’ve got good ingredients and we’ve got good people in the team, but we’ve really got to focus on the team being as one to make those improvements. Long-term obviously comes as a result of that, so for instance, our first ‘medium-term’ goal is to upgrade to a car that works, and that has happened before so I believe we can do it.”


Heading into pre-season testing, what data are you looking to gain, specifically around the differences between the VF-23 updates and VF-24 launch spec? 

“It's not really so much comparing the differences across the specs but if you look at our issue last year, it was clear that on Sunday we just couldn’t manage the tires for 300 kilometers – so that’s what we’re focused on. Our Bahrain test program is completely focused on generating the relevant data so that our engineers can understand what’s happening to the car and what’s happening to the tires. Then we can decide, if we have good quality data, on the conclusion of how to improve it. Then we decide a different direction on that.”

Ayao Komatsu, MoneyGram Haas F1 Team

Kevin and Nico now have a season of working together under their belts. What do you make of their working relationship, and how are they helping progress the team? 

“Their working relationship is very good. In terms of the car they are looking for, it’s not completely the same but the core fundamentals are, so it’s not like the team has to respond to two different preferences – which is great. Their feedback has been very accurate, if you like, in the way that they tell us the issues of the car. They explain it in a way that engineers can understand very well so they are really driving the team forward. Also, they’re both very mature, so in terms of the Friday run program, tire allocations etc. they both understand the bigger picture and what rules they are playing, which takes a lot of the pressure off the engineering team, so it’s been really good.”


This season, you’ll have both Pietro Fittipaldi and Oliver Bearman available for Reserve Driver duties – can you explain how that will work across the season? 

“Pietro has been with the team for a long time, and he’s always prepared, very professional. Even when he’s not driving, he pays attention to everything he can so when we’ve put him in the car – like after Romain’s incident – he’s ready. He works very well with the team so I’m really happy to have him for about half of the season – because of the IndyCar program. For those races he will be available to us, he will be our reserve driver. Ollie has done a fantastic job in his FP1 sessions as well as Abu Dhabi testing so he’ll be a core part of the team. I’m really looking forward to working with both of them.”


Ollie will also do six FP1 sessions for the team. It’s no secret that you were impressed with the young Brit last season. What targets are you setting him this year? 

“I think again it’s incremental improvements. Also, when things are going well, it’s actually pretty easy for somebody of his capability. When things don’t go according to plan, hopefully not, but if you have a car problem you will spend a bit more time in the garage than you ideally wanted. How you handle those situations is a big part of the problem. I hope we don’t have many of those but that will be a good learning curve for him. In terms of baseline, he’s got a very good baseline, so we’re really looking to improve on the details.”

Ayao Komatsu, MoneyGram Haas F1 Team

We also have Chloe Chambers representing the team in F1 Academy – how is the team supporting her? 

“I think it’s really exciting to have an American driver representing Haas in F1 Academy. We’re here to help Chloe in any way possible, in terms of how she needs to prepare for the race weekend and how she should manage the race weekend – that’s from both the technical side and the preparation side.”


What are you looking forward to this season? Races, moments etc. 

“That’s a difficult question! I guess I’m not looking too far ahead because it’s a really exciting opportunity for everyone with this change. Everyone is looking to improve and make improvements in their own area, so really for me I’m just focused on bringing it together. Every day we take as a challenge to see what we can improve.”


The team already has three home races in the US, two in Italy, and one in Great Britain. Now we can add Japan to that list. Are you excited for your first race at home as Team Principal? 

“Yes, of course! The Japanese fans have always been amazing, we have a long history of supporting Formula 1 and as you can see, when we go to Suzuka there are so many passionate fans. I’m looking forward to going.”

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