F1 world in shock over sacking of popular team boss Guenther Steiner

Formula One outfit Haas has parted ways with colourful team principal Guenther Steiner with the struggling American stable appointing Ayao Komatsu in his place.

Steiner, 58, had been in charge of the team since it entered F1 in 2016 and has attracted much attention for his lively outbursts on the successful Netflix show ‘Drive to Survive’.

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The news was confirmed on Thursday morning by team owner Gene Haas, who 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.”

But he added: “Moving forward as an organisation it was clear we need to improve our on-track performances.”

Since joining F1, Haas has never succeeded in making the podium, Romain Grosjean’s fourth place in Austria in 2018 proving to be their best finish.

Last season Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen collected 12 points between them as Haas finished 10th and last in the constructors’ championship.

Magnussen posted on X: “Thanks, Guenther. Thanks for taking me on the journey in 2017 and thanks for bringing me on board again in 2022. It has been both fun and tremendously challenging — but never boring. So long and all the best @HaasF1Team.”

The decision has come as a shock to the F1 world and raises questions about the future of Haas.

F1 reporter Chris Medland wrote that “it feels a little more like Gene Haas might have just risked sinking the ship” in sacking Steiner.

“What the hell is going on at Haas,” was the headline to Medland’s reaction on Racer.

“Despite slipping to a frustrating 10th place in the constructors’ championship last year and appearing to be lost when it came to car development – generally the domain of a technical team rather than a team principal – it didn’t feel like Steiner was nearing the end of the road.

“In fact, he was still one of the brighter spots for Haas.”

Komatsu, 47, takes over having previously filled the role of trackside engineering director.

“In appointing Ayao Komatsu as team principal we fundamentally have engineering at the heart of our management,” said Gene Haas.

“I’m looking forward to working with Ayao and fundamentally ensuring that we maximise our potential — this truly reflects my desire to compete properly in Formula One.” Komatsu, who has also been with the team since its debut season in 2016 when he was chief race engineer, has over 20 years of experience in motorsport having also worked for British American Racing and Renault.

He takes over responsibility for the team’s overall strategy and on-track performance, with a brief to maximise the team’s potential.

“Having been with the team since its track debut back in 2016 I’m obviously passionately invested in its success in Formula One,” said Komatsu.

“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.”

The 2024 season starts with pre-season testing in Bahrain in late February followed by the opening Grand Prix at the same track on March 2.

– with foxsports.com.au

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