Why Haas preferred in-house Steiner replacement over Binotto-esque signing

Haas F1 team owner Gene Haas has explained why he opted for an in-house replacement for Guenther Steiner, rather than turning to one of the experienced team principals on the market. 
(L to R): Mattia Binotto (ITA) Ferrari Team Principal with Guenther Steiner (ITA) Haas F1 Team Prinicipal on the grid.
(L to R): Mattia Binotto (ITA) Ferrari Team Principal with Guenther…

The American outfit announced on Wednesday that Steiner had left the position he had held for 10 years with immediate effect on the eve of the 2024 F1 season.

Steiner’s contract expired and Haas decided not to renew his deal following the team’s disappointing performances in 2023 after finishing the season last in the constructors’ championship.

Ayao Komatsu, Haas’ experienced former director of engineering, has taken over the team principal role.  

Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas F1 Team with Mark Slade (GBR) Haas F1 Team Race Engineer and Ayao Komatsu (JPN) Haas F1 Team Race
Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas F1 Team with Mark Slade (GBR) Haas F1 Team Race…

“We looked from within, at who had most experience,” Haas told F1.com. “Ayao has been with the team since day one, he knows the ins and outs of it. 

“My biggest concern is when we go to Bahrain, we need to show up with a car that is ready to go. Maybe having more of a managerial-type and engineering approach, we’ll see if that has benefits.

“I think Guenther had more of a human-type approach to everything with people and the way he interacted with people, he was very good at that. Ayao is very technical, he looks at things based on statistics – this is what we’re doing bad, where can we do better. It’s a different approach. 

“We really do need something different because we weren’t really doing that well. Like I said, it all comes down to eight years in, dead last. Nothing more I can say on that.”

There were several experienced team principals available on the market, including former Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto, Otmar Szafnauer (who departed Alpine in the summer) and Jost Capito, who left Williams at the end of 2022. But Haas favoured the idea of promoting from within. 

Otmar Szafnauer (USA) Alpine F1 Team, Team Principal. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 12, Hungarian Grand Prix, Budapest,
Otmar Szafnauer (USA) Alpine F1 Team, Team Principal. Formula 1 World…

“I’ve been running Haas Automation for over 40 years now,” Haas explained. “Bringing people in from the outside, it takes them time to learn, six months to a year, and a lot of time you don’t even like them. It’s better to take people you know, and even if they are not the perfect fit, at least you know what you’re going to get.

“That’s really worked out pretty well for us here at Haas Automation, so I’m really applying a lot of the building blocks that were here to the Formula 1 team. I really like to have people that I know, who understand the day-to-day operations, understand the people, [rather] than bringing in a stranger who is going to stir everything up and create a mess.”

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