Newly appointed Haas Team Principal Ayao Komatsu has asserted that he is “not trying to be another Guenther Steiner” in his role.
Komatsu will lead Haas for the 2024 Formula 1 campaign after the US-owned squad opted to part ways with Steiner ahead of the new season.
Steiner had held the leading position within Haas since it made its debut in 2016, with Komatsu working alongside him in a senior engineering role.
Steiner fashioned himself into a popular figure among fans, particularly after his appearances on the Netflix 'Drive To Survive' show where he became known for his outbursts and unique quotes.
But Komatsu has no interest in mirroring Steiner's style as he takes over at the helm of Haas for the upcoming campaign.
“Of course, I’m not trying to be Guenther Steiner!” he said, as quoted by Formula1.com. “He’s a very different person.
“We got on, honestly, really, really well. We respect each other, we respect each other’s positions and job roles during work and off work as well.
“We used to go to dinner quite a lot as well over a race weekend – again, not to talk about work but because we got on pretty well. But I’m not here to replace Guenther Steiner as a character.”
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Komatsu's promotion came amid Gene Haas' desire to have a technical expert leading the team, as well as hiring from within the organisation.
The Japanese engineer stated that he was informed of his new role late last year and that he was “surprised” over the decision.
However, Komatsu highlighted that he spoke to Haas to make it clear that he would solely be involved in the technical side of matters rather than the team's marketing efforts.
“When I was given this opportunity I just made it clear to Gene: ‘You know my expertise, there’s no point in me trying to focus on the marketing side and trying to get sponsorship because that’s not where my skillset is’,” said Komatsu.
“In that field I need someone else who is an expert in that area to run it, then I can focus on the technical side, trying to get an organisation that we can improve the technical side of the team.
“So yeah, it’s a very different responsibility, but at the same time, any job I’ve done – so I used to be in the vehicle dynamics, performance engineer, race engineer, chief race engineer – when you do your current job you always try your best in the job you are doing but you also look at ‘OK, what are the other constraints? If certain things are improved, how can I do a better job?’.
“You always think about that, so even when I was doing the previous job, of course this team means a lot to me because I was here since day one.
“I know what potential this team has got, so in certain areas I can see ‘Oh maybe you can look at doing things in a different way’ etc. So in that sense, we’re not short of ideas, if you like, so there’s plenty of areas that we can take a look to improve the team.”