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2024 Formula 1: Who are the drivers and team principal for Haas F1?

The American Formula 1 team is making some big changes in 2024 and it all starts at the top, where an engineer is calling the shots, investing in the future

Haas F1 team principal Ayao Komatsu arrives ahead of the first practice session of the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir on February 29, 2024. (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP)

Nine years since their appearance on the F1 horizon, Haas is still looking to make their mark on the sport. Now, team co-owner Gene Haas has decided to go another way, replacing Guenther Steiner with engineer Ayao Komatsu. It is a bold strategy, counting on making their not insignificant investment get used to the best effect.

Komatsu is realistic about expectations for this season, the eternal engineer. Understanding that it takes time to solve big car problems, particularly when you are tied to Ferrari parts, Komatsu says, “Out of the gates, I still think we’re going to be towards the back of the grid, if not last.”

In its eight full seasons in Formula 1, Haas has never won a race, or even been on the podium. Following the model of more successful teams such as McLaren and Aston Martin, Haas now has an engineer in charge.

Haas: The team & the drivers

The change from Steiner to Komatsu is a big one and both the new principal and the drivers are aware of it.

“I’m not trying to be Guenther Steiner,” says Komatsu. “He’s a very different person. He’s got very different strengths and weaknesses to me. Gene knows that, and if Gene wanted Steiner’s replacement in that way, he’d have appointed somebody else. I’ll try to be the best version of myself rather than trying to be somebody else.”

Komatsu is quite the opposite to Steiner. The 47-year-old is a very technical person who trusts numbers and statistics, whereas Steiner was more of a man manager, running operations rather than getting his hands dirty.

Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen & Nico Hulkenberg

In 2022, Kevin Magnussen made a shock return to Formula 1 with Haas. We say shock, because this was the same driver that spent from 2017 to 2020 with the team - claiming a best drivers’ finish of ninth in 2018 - before being dropped for 2021. What’s even more surprising, is the fact that Magnussen and then Renault driver Nico Hulkenberg engaged in what is now an infamous expletive laced exchange at the 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix.

That was then, this is now.

Magnussen and Hulkenberg are the ones in the hot seat, trying to take Haas to the next level.

Where Hulkenberg is concerned, the 36-year-old has spent time with Williams, Force India and Renault, with two substitute appearances for Racing Point in 2020 and two for Aston Martin in 2022. That’s to say that Hulkenberg has spent some time in the wilderness. Some will of course point to the idea that the German currently holds the record for most F1 starts without a podium. Needless to say, he will be hoping to remove that dubious honor with Haas. Ultimately, though they do have a history, both drivers have performed impressively of late, with Magnussen taking a stunning pole at Sao Paolo back in 2022. Indeed, it was probably one of the team’s greatest moments alongside their 2018 campaign which saw them finish fifth in the constructors’ championship - their best finish to date.

What to expect from Haas in 2023?

If we look at the big picture, Haas has improved year on year from a disastrous 2021 when the team failed to score a single point. Now with two experienced drivers at the wheel and close ties to Ferrari, it’s clear that Haas have their sights set on doing even better in 2024. In addition to getting settled with Hulkenberg and Magnussen, the team has also gained further stability through their relationship with sponsor Moneygram, and now look to Ayao Komatsu to bring all the pieces together. With this in mind, it’s quite likely we could the American team climbing its way out of the midfield, or at the very least making life a lot more difficult for those who are in it. Keep an eye on them.