We spoke to Haas F1 Team's Ayao Komatsu to find out what a Director of Engineering does, how to become one, and what skills you need for the job.
Source: Autosport – Engineers are crucial to the success of a Formula 1 team, and whether they’re working on a car at a race weekend or optimising the car in the factory, there’s a wide variety of engineering roles out there.
To find out more about the world of F1 engineering, we spoke to Ayao Komatsu – Haas F1 Team’s Director of Engineering – to find out how he made it to where he is, what he looks for in potential hires, and what advice he’d give to people who want to become an engineer in Formula 1.
What is your role?
I am the Director of Engineering and I manage all trackside engineering activities on-site, and back in the factory working with a team of engineers – a vehicle performance group, vehicle science group and electrical engineering. I coordinate some of the performance related activities at the Banbury engineering group with the trackside engineering, but I also work closely with the planning operation department as well, so it’s quite wide ranging.
How do you become a Director of Engineering?
I started in Formula 1 in 2003. I was on the test team for BAR Honda which is now Mercedes and I focused on the vehicle performance side. I did that for three years and on the final year I focused on tyres and analysis of tyre performance. It was the era of Michelin and Bridgestone and that was the biggest performance differentiator, even more so than aerodynamics at the time. I got a call from Renault to join the team and moved in 2006 to do a similar role in terms of a Tyre Engineer when we won the championship. After that era of tyres ended, I wanted to go into more generic vehicle performance. I became a Performance Engineer, trackside. I did that for a year, and then went on to the race team, doing the same tasks, but as a race team Performance Engineer. I then became a Race Engineer on the team for four years, and then became Chief Race Engineer for a year. Overall, I was with Renault for just under 10 years.
Then I had the opportunity to come to Haas as a brand-new team. I thought it was a very exciting opportunity, rather than being purely a Race Engineer, and being part of a bigger project with a new team. It was an exciting prospect for me.