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New Haas F1 car should suit Magnussen better, says boss Komatsu

Haas Formula 1 boss Ayao Komatsu has faith that the team’s 2024 car should suit Kevin Magnussen better.

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-23

Kevin Magnussen struggled at times throughout last season to get as much out of the team’s 2023 challenger as team-mate Nico Hulkenberg because its characteristics did not suit his style. 

His preference to carry speed through a corner, which demands a car handles well the transition from braking on the approach and turn-in, was not something that the Haas VF-23 was good at.

Instead, it lost stability when asked to use braking and rotational forces at the same time. This made it better for drivers like Hulkenberg, who have what’s known as a V-style approach – where they brake more in a straight line, turn sharply and then accelerate out. 

As Magnussen said at the time: “You can't really combine Gs so much with these cars. You have to V the corners more. And that's the two different driving styles: V-style or not.  

“There's many different variations of these two, but in broad terms that's what I find, and this year's car on our side is even more vulnerable like that.” 

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Haas has spent the winter trying to address the issues it faced last year, and new team boss Komatsu believes that Magnussen should feel improvements to help lift his form. 

“I wouldn’t say eliminated, that’s a big word,” he said when asked about the problems that Magnussen faced last year. “But certainly, we have improved on it.  

“He’s a driver who needs good entry stability and consistent [handling] through a corner.”  

Ayao Komatsu, Chief Engineer, Haas F1 Team, Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team, on the Sprint grid

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Ayao Komatsu and Kevin Magnussen on the grid last year

Komatsu says he has a good working relationship with both of Haas’s F1 drivers, and reckoned that they could make good progress together if they stayed honest with each other. 

“Obviously, I’ve known Kevin [Magnussen] for some years,” he said. “Nico [Hulkenberg], I really enjoyed working with him last year. I didn’t know him before.   

“Although actually, when I was working with Lotus, he came for a seat fit – I can’t remember which year – and he remembered that as well.   

“They both know that I’m quite straightforward. I say what I think. Not being aggressive or anything, but no bullshit, it’s just that we haven’t got time to waste.  

“They know exactly where I am then, where they are, and we work well together. In terms of our strengths and weaknesses, we understand each other pretty well.  We’ve got a good open and transparent dialogue, so I’m happy with that.”  

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