Haas F1 Team Principal casts doubt over 2023 car development

Guenther Steiner of Haas F1 in a press conference.

With six rounds left in 2023, Haas F1 Team Principal Guenther Steiner admits that questions still surround the short and long-term direction at Haas F1.

Guenther Steiner’s team sits eighth in the standings, a rather flattering depiction of the 2023 Haas F1 campaign. Aside from the heroics of Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen, the VF-23 often finds itself beyond point contention. One-lap performance is not an issue, with Hulkenberg recording numerous Q3 appearances for Haas.

For many years now, the main talking point was often their driver pairing. The controversial appointment of Nikita Mazepin did not do them any favors. The last-minute arrival of Kevin Magnussen in 2022 and – most recently – at the beginning of 2023 the signing of Nico Hulkenberg at Haas F1 all captured positive headlines though.

Even further back, the rivalry between Magnussen and Grosjean became a big talking point in F1 circles. In part due to the successful Drive to Survive series. However, an issue that is increasingly gaining traction is the development at Haas. To be more specific, the lack of development, which continues to plague the American F1 team, is under heavy scrutiny.

Last season was a rather textbook example of the regression that Haas generally experiences over a season. After a fantastic start in Bahrain, Jeddah and Imola, the American outfit went from regular points contenders to relative back markers. Something similar has taken place this year, although – on this occasion – without the initial strong start.


The biggest weakness

The Achilles heel for Haas F1 is tyre degradation, which robs them of the longevity in the race to score points regularly. This has been a problem ever since Haas F1 joined the F1 grid in 2016.

Before the 2023 F1 season, Guenther Steiner made clear that a development plan was in place to correct the team’s seasonal mid-season decline. There was optimism on this issue over the winter, especially as an official agreement with new title sponsor MoneyGram was confirmed.

Unfortunately for the Haas F1, 2023 mid-season development remains a significant issue. A recent example of this vulnerability is the Italian GP, where Haas F1 were the only team without a circuit-specific rear wing. This resulted in criticism from Nico Hulkenberg, frustrated with the team’s lack of preparation. For the first time in several years, it was the driver – not the team principal – demanding improvements.

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Having introduced virtually no significant upgrades in 2023, the American GP offers some hope for the team. A major set of changes have been scheduled for COTA, the first and – almost certainly – last updates of the season.

These alterations will be crucial in the battle for 8th in the constructors. AlphaTauri is proving increasingly competitive, both since the arrival of Liam Lawson and – more importantly – the sequence of updates introduced in Singapore. However, there are also wider macro implications for the team.

Problems for 2024?

If Haas cannot find performance with these changes (and understand them within a fairly limited timeframe), their winter development for 2024 will be compromised. As quoted by Speedcafe, team principal Guenther Steiner is uncertain about the impact of their planned updates:

“I don’t know yet what to expect. Obviously, you expect that you have better performance.

“But the main thing is to get to see what you do next year because next year’s car is completely changing the concept.”

It would be unfair to ignore the positives at Haas. At least in relative terms, they are more financially stable than previously. Furthermore, they could benefit from the improvements at Ferrari – concerning their package and its drivability.

With that said, unless substantial investment arrives, the previously outlined weaknesses will continue to limit their F1 potential.


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