Haas ‘perfection’ helps disprove Komatsu worries

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Haas team principal Ayao Komatsu has conceded the team’s ability to prove his pre-season pessimism wrong is a “surprise”.

The Japanese is taking charge for the first time this season after succeeding Guenther Steiner in January as American-owned Haas aims to pick itself up from a lacklustre campaign last term.

Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen were handicapped by excessive rear tyre degradation last season and, ahead of the new season, Komatsu predicted Haas would remain the backmarker team on the grid in the early rounds.

Yet after reaching Q3 in Bahrain, Hulkenberg secured the first point of the season in Saudi Arabia. Asked if this was a shock given his pre-season pessimism, Komatsu told media including RacingNews365: “It is a surprise.

“We are the smallest team, so we have got to assume that all the gains we find in the winter, everybody else had to be finding it, minimum.

“At that point in pre-season, we hadn’t addressed any of our race tyre management issues, so I had to assume that was my baseline, my starting point.”

‘So happy for the team’

Despite the strong performances, Komatsu has warned the different circuit characteristics on offer can alter the perception of the team’s position in the pecking order.

“The car is better than last year but you can see the lap-time delta is dependent [on the circuit], and with much higher speeds, it changes,” he said.

“So [in Saudi Arabia], our qualifying best would have been P12, and that was pretty clear, but in Bahrain, we were in Q3.

“In the race, I still believe we had a strong car but we are fighting for that one point with so many other drivers.

“I am so happy for the team, everyone did their bit and [in Jeddah], operationally, as a race team, it was just perfection.”

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