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Breaking News: Guenther Steiner Steps Down as Haas F1 Team Principal; Ayao Komatsu Takes the Helm

Written by Hugh W


In a shocking turn of events, Guenther Steiner has parted ways with the Haas Formula 1 team, leaving behind the team he founded. The announcement came on Wednesday, following a disappointing 2023 season where Haas finished 10th and last in the constructors’ World Championship.

The decision not to renew Steiner's contract was made by team owner Gene Haas, reflecting the team's dissatisfaction with the recent performance. The team has also bid farewell to former technical director Simone Resta, a move that predates Steiner's departure.

Tensions between Steiner and Haas were no secret, with disagreements over the team's technical direction becoming increasingly evident. The split in aero packages during the last two races of 2023 highlighted the diverging views within the team. Steiner advocated for increased investment to match rivals, while Haas aimed for more efficient resource utilisation.

The 10th-place finish in 2023 has significant financial implications, reducing the team's share of the F1 prize fund. This compels Haas to contribute more to the 2024 running budget, limiting investments in facilities.

In a bold move, Ayao Komatsu, the former director of engineering and chief race engineer since the team's debut in 2016, steps in as the new team principal. He is tasked with overseeing the team's strategy and on-track performance, focusing on maximising potential through employee empowerment and structural efficiency.

A yet-to-be-named chief operating officer will support Komatsu on the organisational and commercial side, handling non-racing matters, likely based at the UK facility in Banbury.

Gene Haas expressed gratitude to Guenther Steiner for his decade-long dedication but emphasised the need to improve on-track performances. Haas intends to prioritise engineering in the team's management structure, aligning with Komatsu's expertise.

“I’d like to start by extending my thanks to Guenther Steiner for all his hard work over the past decade and I wish him well for the future,” he said.

“Moving forward as an organisation it was clear we need to improve our on-track performances. In appointing Ayao Komatsu as team principal we fundamentally have engineering at the heart of our management.

“We have had some successes, but we need to be consistent in delivering results that help us reach our wider goals as an organisation. We need to be efficient with the resources we have, but improving our design and engineering capability is key to our success as a team.

“I’m looking forward to working with Ayao and fundamentally ensuring that we maximise our potential – this truly reflects my desire to compete properly in F1.”

Komatsu, the first Japanese team principal of a European-based outfit, expressed excitement about leading the team and emphasised the need for improved on-track performances.


“I’m naturally very excited to have the opportunity to be team principal at MoneyGram Haas F1 Team,” he said.

“Having been with the team since its track debut back in 2016, I’m obviously passionately invested in its success in F1. I’m looking forward to leading our program and the various competitive operations internally to ensure we can build a structure that produces improved on-track performances.”

“We are a performance-based business. We obviously haven’t been competitive enough recently which has been a source of frustration for us all.

“We have amazing support from Gene and our various partners, and we want to mirror their enthusiasm with an improved on-track product. We have a great team of people across Kannapolis, Banbury, and Maranello and together I know we can achieve the kind of results we’re capable of.”

Steiner's departure raises questions about the team's sponsorships, including title backer MoneyGram, as Steiner played a significant role in raising the team’s profile through his appearances in the popular documentary series Drive to Survive.

Moneygram CEO Alex Holmes acknowledged Steiner's impact on the team's appeal, stating, “To see that star effect that he has, and how that comes across, that's who he is. And I think that genuineness really shows through. And for us to also be able to attach our brand to his is very special."

The departure of Steiner, a charismatic figure in the F1 world, marks the end of an era for Haas F1 as it looks to rebuild under Komatsu's leadership.


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