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Ayao Komatsu

Haas detail process behind F1 driver decision

Haas team principal Ayao Komatsu has explained the extent to which owner, Gene Haas, is involved in deciding the driver line up within the team, underlining the strong relationship the pair share and insisting it is "not like a dictatorship" at the American outfit.

Komatsu Magnussen
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Haas team principal Ayao Komatsu has detailed the active role owner Gene Haas plays in establishing the driver pairing at the team, highlighting the "good dialogue" the two enjoy on such matters.

The team is facing a half-changed line-up next season at the least, with Nico Hulkenberg now confirmed to be moving to Stake F1 in preparation of the Audi takeover in 2026.

Regardless of the Hulkenberg decision, Komatsu says team owner Gene would be heavily involved in determining which two drivers the team ultimately opts for.

"I put the fact, or opinion, to him, but he’s the owner. We have a very good dialogue, and he listens, but final say is Gene," Komatsu replied when asked by RacingNews365 at the Chinese Grand Prix how much input Haas has on his team's line-up, or if he leaves the decision to Komatsu, as team principal.

"But it’s not like a dictatorship, if you like, we have a very good dialogue, understanding each other, but at the end of the day, it’s Gene’s team – he’s the owner."

'It's always case-by-case'

Following Hulkenberg's departure at the end of the current F1 season, the rumoured most likely driver line-up at Haas next season is Kevin Magnussen and Oliver Bearman.

The latter impressed the F1 establishment when he deputised for the injured Carlos Sainz at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, but had been linked to the drive prior to that, with strong showings in free practice sessions for Haas last term.

The F2 driver was already scheduled to take part in six PF1 sessions for the team this year - three times more than the required number.

As an incumbent in the team, Magnussen is expected to be retained for 2025, but Komatsu says he will weigh up the merits and demerits of each potential driver with Haas, with the 48-year-old explaining how money is factored into the decision.

"Not necessarily, no. it’s always case-by-case, really. So, he’s never said to me: ‘this is the money, I’m not spending any more’ – nothing like this," he said when RacingNews365 queried if he was given a budget to work to for the driver pairing.

"[We’re] always putting pros and cons – if we sign this driver, these are the pros, these are the cons, this could be the implication for the championship.

"Of course, one championship position in terms of prize money, that’s huge, so you’ve got to take all those things into consideration.

"This guy costs X amount, or much more, but this guy is gonna make a difference in championship position. It’s difficult to say, of course, but you can look at it with, let’s say, previous year’s average, circumstantial evidence, etc.

"But the main thing is, we have a very good conversation frequently, so that’s the key."

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