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Haas F1 Team

New Haas boss facing Magnussen Hulkenberg reality

Ayao Komatsu says he faces "a huge responsibility" with regard to his driver line-up for 2025

Magnussen Bahrain test
To news overview © XPBimages

New Haas team principal Ayao Komatsu is aware that if he fails to provide drivers Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg with a competitive car this F1 season then both could decide to leave.

In his first year in charge of Haas, stepping up from his director of engineering role to replace Guenther Steiner, Komatsu faces an intriguing situation as the driver market is wide open with several out of contract at the end of the campaign.

It is a picture he is acutely aware of but he appreciates his primary task is to ensure the VF-24 at least allows his current pairing to put up more of a fight over race weekends than occurred last year.

The VF-23 suffered miserably with rapid tyre degradation which meant that on the occasions Magnussen and Hulkenberg qualified well, they soon plummeted down the order and out of the points, ultimately culminating in Haas finishing last in the constructors' championship for the second time in three years.

In an interview with RacingNews365, Komatsu conceded he faces "a huge responsibility" when it comes to determining who will be in the 2025 car but noted that "to be honest, before looking at that, we need a competitive car that will make our current drivers feel they want to stay. That's first and foremost."

He added: "If our car is not good, and our current drivers want to move away, that's not good, so I'm focused on getting that under control first, which is our car and our team, and then it's down to whatever the drivers decide."

"They can show more to the world what they can do"

The early impression from Komatsu is that he is grateful to have the experience of Magnussen and Hulkenberg, declaring them to be "a really good combination".

Unfortunately, neither driver was able to prove themselves in last year's car, with Komatsu now eager to at least provide them with a machine worthy of their talent.

"The three days [of pre-season testing last week] proved they are [a good pairing]," he said. "Their feedback was essential, with both driving pretty well, so I'm pleased about that.

"Last year's car was very different. As a foundation, it wasn't good enough, especially for Kevin. It did not make him look good and he has bags of talent.

"Nico is a brilliant qualifier - he has to improve his race tyre management but part of that was the car.

"For Kevin, the fundamentals of the car didn't suit him, so we really couldn't get the best out of both drivers. The only bit we got the best out of was Nico's qualifying.

"With this year's car, with what we're doing, I think they can show more to the world what they can do.

"They are completely engaged, an integral part of it, motivated, which is good to see."

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