Haas: Early upgrades already making a difference

Upgrades are already helping Haas as they battle other F1 teams in the constructors.

Haas team principal Ayao Komatsu believes upgrades to the VF-24 are already having an impact. Unlike previous campaigns, Haas introduced a significant upgrade package relatively early in the season. Last year, improvements did not arrive at Haas until round 17 of the season.

Since taking charge of the US team, Komatsu has implemented a series of important changes. Despite his short stint as team principal, the Japanese engineer can be credited with overseeing a far more efficient group operationally. Pit-stops have been consistent, with rivals Sauber becoming F1’s weakest team in this area. Additionally, strategy and reliability have been very solid – with no points being dropped from either department.

These factors, combined with Nico Hulkenberg’s high-level performances, have put Haas into P7 in the standings. However, optimising your existing package is not enough to succeed in Formula 1. Continual progress, including mid-season, is a necessary requirement.

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Haas pleased with China upgrades

The VF-24 was among the cars to receive updates at the Chinese GP, round five of the season. Initially, it was anticipated that only Kevin Magnussen would receive the new components at the Shanghai International Circuit.

However, the team managed to have the upgrades fitted to both drivers. Even though a lack of spare parts meant that any incidents would damage their only improvements, Komatsu felt this was worth the risk. After all, keeping a spare component in the garage – whilst a safer option – ultimately means the updates go unused.

Speaking to motorsport-total, the Haas team principal explained his assessment of the upgrades:

“I’m not sitting here saying that the upgrade worked perfectly or that I’m 100% convinced…

“But until it’s proven that it doesn’t work, I have to trust the process. We decided to bring the update to both cars because the field is so narrow. 

“And if we don’t trust our processes, then what’s the point?”

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This combination of pragmatism and honesty has made Komatsu relatively popular since he took over at Haas. With the team securing relatively consistent points, the Japanese engineer can be satisfied with his start.

Still, the season is very young. Alpine is already showing signs of progression, whilst Sauber will benefit from Audi’s ownership and financial firepower.

As a result, Haas must build upon their early momentum and prove they can sustain a development programme across 2024.

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