Jan.23 - Haas' new boss says he wants to pull the struggling American team off the bottom of the constructors' world championship this year.

Team owner Gene Haas shocked the Formula 1 world recently after deciding to sack the popular long-time team principal Gunther Steiner, declaring that finishing dead last in 2023 was "embarrassing".

The new team boss is an internal promotion, with engineering chief Ayao Komatsu stepping up to the top job.

"I think Gene was thinking about it for at least the second half of last season," the Japanese told as-web.jp. "He wants to be the midfield and believes the team has the ability for it.

"I think he was slowly getting frustrated and embarrassed to see his team fall to the bottom of the championship," Komatsu, 47, added.

Komatsu says the goal for 2024 is moving up to eighth overall, which he admits may sound modest but is actually "a big deal" when it means beating teams like Sauber, AlphaTauri or Williams.

"I think it will be difficult for us to overtake two teams on our own, rather than relying on others," he said. "Both Alfa Romeo (Sauber) and Williams have better budgets and systems than us.

"And AlphaTauri has also improved significantly and it is said that they will strengthen their partnership with Red Bull this year, so there is a possibility that we will not be able to compete.

"2024 will be a transition period for us, but we still need to improve our results while changing the team. We have no intention of staying in eighth in the future, but this is a year of rebuilding."

Komatsu admits, however, that the new season probably won't start that well for Haas.

"There's less than a month left until pre-season testing, so I think the car we'll take to Bahrain will still be at the bottom," he said.

"It's not the aerodynamics staff's fault, but the timing of the decisions has delayed development, so they don't have much time. So I think rather than focusing on absolute speed in testing, it's important to thoroughly evaluate the car, find the direction of development and move forward from there."

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