Guenther Steiner leaves role as Haas Team Principal with immediate effect as Ayao Komatsu promoted
Guenther Steiner has left his role as Team Principal of Haas F1 Team, with Director of Engineering Ayao Komatsu stepping up to replace him.
Steiner has led the team since the American squad entered F1 in 2016. The Italian was F1’s third longest-serving team principal, behind Red Bull’s Christian Horner and Mercedes’ Toto Wolff, and a popular figure in the sport after he took a starring role in Netflix’s Drive To Survive series.
The team enjoyed genuine highs while under his guidance, including points on debut in Australia in 2016, a maiden pole position in Brazil last year and a fifth-placed finish in the constructors’ championship in 2018.
However, last year was tough for them. Haas finished last in the constructors’ championship, a drop of two places on the previous season, as they struggled to transform one-lap pace in qualifying into points-scoring race pace on Sunday.
After discussions between Steiner and owner Gene Haas over the winter, it was decided that Steiner would leave the organisation with immediate effect.
His replacement Komatsu, 47, has worked with Haas since they debuted in F1 in 2016, starting as Chief Race Engineer and rising to Director of Engineering.
He has over 20 years of experience in Formula 1, working across engineering and management roles with British American Racing, plus a long stint at Renault before he joined Haas.
Haas say Komatsu will take responsibility for the team’s overall strategy, and ultimately on-track performance, with a brief to maximise the team’s potential through employee empowerment and structural process and efficiency.
With Komatsu focused on the on-track performance, Haas plan to recruit a European-based Chief Operating Officer who will look after all non-competition matters and departments, including areas such as HR, admin, finance, marketing and communications.
Owner Gene Haas said: “I’d like to start by extending my thanks to Guenther Steiner for all his hard work over the past decade and I wish him well for the future.
“Moving forward as an organization, it was clear we need to improve our on-track performances. In appointing Ayao Komatsu as Team Principal we fundamentally have engineering at the heart of our management.
“We have had some successes, but we need to be consistent in delivering results that help us reach our wider goals as an organization. We need to be efficient with the resources we have but improving our design and engineering capability is key to our success as a team.
“I’m looking forward to working with Ayao and fundamentally ensuring that we maximize our potential – this truly reflects my desire to compete properly in Formula 1.”
Komatsu said: “I’m naturally very excited to have the opportunity to be Team Principal at Haas. Having been with the team since its track-debut back in 2016 I’m obviously passionately invested in its success in Formula 1. I’m looking forward to leading our program and the various competitive operations internally to ensure we can build a structure that produces improved on-track performances.
“We are a results-based business at the end of the day, and we obviously haven’t been competitive enough recently which has been a source of frustration.
“We have amazing support from Gene and our various partners – particularly MoneyGram, and we want to mirror their enthusiasm with an improved on-track product. We have a great team of people across Kannapolis, Banbury and Maranello and together I know we can reach the kind of performances we’re capable of.”