Haas With Very Little Ambition For First Race: 'Towards Back Of Grid, If Not Last'

F1
by Adam OndrikSaturday, 03 February 2024 at 18:00
hulkenberg nico haas car latphoto7
The team principal of the only American team on the grid, Ayao Kamatsu, tempered expectations from Haas once again during yesterday's car launch event.
The Japanese team principal who replaced Guenther Steiner in the role of the team principal ahead of the season 2024 said lately Haas's goal for 2024 will be to achieve the eighth position in the Championship.
It isn't common for teams to admit "defeat" before the season even starts, but the Komatsu wanted to avoid setting unrealistically high expectations. According to Formula1.com, he said:

"Out of the gates in Bahrain, I still think we’re going to be towards the back of the grid, if not last."

The 48-year-old mentioned the reason for his team being so far behind in terms of development is the unsuccessful upgrade they tried to introduce during the 2023 United States Grand Prix.
Long story short, Haas brought a very promising upgrade to Circuit of the Americas, which they hoped would help them turn their season around.
However, the opposite ended up being true. The upgrade brought absolutely nothing in terms of additional performance to the point where Nico Hulkenberg opted to drive the old-spec car in the last two races of the season instead.

"The reason our launch-spec car is not going to be quick enough in Bahrain is not because of the quality of the people we have here, but it’s because we started late and then we stopped for two months to do the Austin upgrade."

In 2023, there was one team that started the season by admitting they were not where they wanted to be in terms of performance. Do you remember which team it was?
It was McLaren. The team started the season terribly - just as they said they would. However, consecutive upgrades increased their pace so significantly that they became a threat to the leading Red Bull in the last few races of the season.
Haas might want to replicate what the Papaya team achieved last year, and as we have seen, it isn't impossible to make big progress throughout the season. So maybe we shouldn't completely write off the American team. Komatsu added;

"So we lost time there, but the team is finding good gains in the wind tunnel, so that’s positive, and in terms of characteristics, it’s going in the right direction."