Ayao Komatsu ‘coaxed’ Gene Haas to sack Guenther Steiner by feeding into ego with cunning ‘money’ strategy

Haas has dominated F1 news over the past week, with a number of key developments taking place at the bottom-placed team last season. The American outfit saw owner Gene Haas bid farewell to long-term team principal Guenther Steiner in such bitter fashion that he was not even allowed to bid farewell to his staff.

There was naturally some friction between Gene and Steiner, and it has been suggested that this was due to some cunning politics played by new team principal Ayao Komatsu.

Guenther Steiner and Ayao Komatsu. Credit: carandbike.com
Guenther Steiner and Ayao Komatsu. Credit: carandbike.com

Much like Steiner, Komatsu has also been at Haas ever since the team’s entry in the sport back in 2016. Rising up the ranks steadily, Komatsu is believed to exercise a great deal of influence over Gene Haas, according to F1 experts Scot Mitchell-Malm and Mark Hughes.

On The Race’s F1 Podcast, Mitchell-Malm confessed that Komatsu was just feeding into Gene Haas’ narrative and compelling the team boss to get rid of Steiner. While the former team principal was telling Gene Haas to find more investment for improved results, Komatsu played it smart. Knowing fully well that Gene Haas was largely bankrolling the team himself, Komatsu instilled the notion that small improvements and a midfield status-quo was all the team needed for now.

With Gene Haas feeling the full wrath of seeing his investment result in little benefit as far as the team’s standing year after year, he found value in the suggestion of Komatsu.

Komatsu urged Gene Haas to consider better utilisation of resources as opposed to simply investing more. The team doesn’t have the sort of sponsors that some of its rivals boast of and with the responsibility solely on the shoulders of Gene Haas to pump in additional cash, this notion made more sense to him.

While Steiner and Gene enjoyed a great relationship in the past, it soured in recent years as some believed the reason for the friction was also the unprecedented attention the Italian-American received from fans for his no-nonsense attitude seen on Netflix’s Drive to Survive.

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