JANUARY 24, 2024

Ralf recommends ex-F1 name for top Haas role

Out-of-work F1 team boss Otmar Szafnauer would make a good addition to the embattled Haas team.

Nico Hulkenberg, Spanish GP 2023
© Haas F1 Team / LAT

That is the view of Ralf Schumacher, who was a fierce critic of the way the newly-sacked Gunther Steiner ran Haas - especially his handling of Mick Schumacher's stint at the team.

However, Schumacher thinks the popular Steiner's departure from Formula 1 is a shame.

Because another character, a real brand, disappears from F1, he told formel1.de. "But maybe it was time for a new person to fill that position. Only time will tell.

It was good that he drew attention to the team and the sponsors, but I think Gene Haas was too embarrassed that his team was always behind.

Team owner Gene Haas has promoted from within to replace Steiner, meaning the American outfit is now headed by its former engineering chief, Ayao Komatsu.

The question now is why Haas preferred Japanese Komatsu, a newcomer to the team principal role, over some established names that are on the market - like ex-Ferrari chief Mattia Binotto.

I think Gene was thinking about doing that at first too, Komatsu told as-web.jp. "But the problem here is that Haas has a unique way of operating the team, such as the alliance with Ferrari and having bases in the UK and Italy.

So Gene came to the conclusion that it had to be someone from within the team who understood the current situation, he added.

However, Komatsu admits he is in favour of Haas also hiring a brand new chief operating officer - a position that is now being publicly advertised.

Ralf Schumacher thinks Szafnauer, a victim of the recent management chaos at Alpine, would fit the bill for a new top role at Haas.

Otmar is well known in F1, he also has technical expertise, and the fact that he looks for good people, sometimes at universities, also speaks in his favour, he said, pointing out that Szafnauer was also team boss at Aston Martin.

This foresight, this involvement of new people so that they can move the team forward, is a skill that I think Otmar has, Schumacher added.

I can't imagine Mattia Binotto doing the same, he insisted. "And he's more associated with Audi these days, although I don't know how that would work with Andreas Seidl.

"Otmar knows small organisations much better and can achieve a lot out of them.

What would be the point of bringing in someone at Haas who previously managed 1000 people? Schumacher said, referring to Binotto. It would be a very difficult task at first.