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Haas F1 Team

Why Haas heads into Chinese GP 'more blind' than F1 rivals

Haas team principal Ayao Komatsu has revealed the extent to which Haas are on the back foot compared with rival teams, saying that the American squad is going into the first Chinese Grand Prix in five years “more blind” than established outfits.

Haas for China
To news overview © XPBimages

Haas team principal Ayao Komatsu has explained his biggest concerns ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix and what the most challenging aspects of the weekend will be, highlighting Haas’ inability to prepare as thoroughly as its rivals – something that leaves the team “more blind” than others.

F1 has returned to the Shanghai International Circuit for the first time since 2019. With an extended period away from the venue, the condition of the track surface has been a major talking point.

Coupled with other factors, such as the current generation of cars having not raced in China before and the sprint weekend format limiting practice time to just one hour, teams are feeling concerned about their preparations ahead of the event.

Much has been made of the use of Bitumen to treat the tarmac at the circuit, with the hope it will help repair the track surface of a venue seldom raced at for half a decade. The material is commonly used in the United States and China but is not generally used at European racetracks, making it unfamiliar to the teams.

In extension of that, Komatsu's main worry is how consistent the track surface will be, both from corner to corner and through them.

“No. Honestly, I think it looks a bit inconsistent – that inconsistency is what I worry about the most,” he replied to media including RacingNews365 when asked if he had reasonable expectations about how the track surface would behave, before further elaborating on his point: “It’s about inconsistency from entry to mid-corner to exit. Each corner, if it's variable width, that can be pretty tricky.

“And of course, it's a sprint weekend, you’ve only got one hour [of practice] – probably three runs to sort your car out, both low and high fuel. It's same for everyone. But I think it's gonna be a very tough challenge.”

'We don't actually have our own simulator'

The unpredictability of the weekend in China has made preparation hard for teams, with many of the unknown variables facing them leaving answered questions.

When asked by RacingNews365 what Haas had been able to achieve, aside from the usual simulator work and despite the difficulties facing the entire grid, Komatsu revealed that his team might be facing more of an uphill challenge that others.

“That’s one of the areas that we one of the weakest compared to the big teams – in terms of the tools we have,” the 48-year-old responded.

“And even the simulator, we don’t actually have our own simulator, so we don’t actively use it to the extent that we should be using it.”

Komatsu explained that despite development in that area, Haas are not able to compete with the more established teams, saying the team is “not there yet,” before reiterating the unknowns heading into the weekend, with the team principal highlighting those factors as being the “biggest challenge” for Haas in China.

RacingNews365 followed up on his admission, querying whether it meant the team was, in effect, going into the weekend blind, to which Komatsu conceded: “I wouldn’t say blind, but I would say more blind than other, established teams – yeah, I cannot deny that.”

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