The Mexican GP was a huge blow to Haas F1 and their aspirations, with the American team relegated to last place in the standings.
Haas are now last in the F1 constructors standings. Despite repeatedly strong results in qualifying (and heroic efforts from Hulkenberg and Magnussen on race day), the American outfit’s position is hardly surprising.
Unlike immediate rivals Alfa Romeo and AlphaTauri, the US outfit has introduced hardly any updates. The only major changes brought to the VF-23 arrived in COTA, representing the team’s first step towards the Red Bull concept.
Whilst this transition seems positive at face value, the reality is that Haas is very behind. Almost every team introduced a similar change in philosophy when 2023 began – not in the final stages. The slowness of mid-season development at Haas F1 gives them little time to collect data for 2024.
And improvements are imminently needed, as demonstrated last weekend in Mexico City. Nico Hulkenberg drove valiantly to keep P10 for so long. Ultimately, though, performance is king in Formula 1 – and Haas is lacking in this department.
“Almost isn’t good enough”
In a post-race review, Guenther Steiner admitted the current situation is difficult:
“It was a tough day again, but it’s not all negative. Nico [Hulkenberg] was in a good position to get points.
“But then, with the red flag, which we caused ourselves, we couldn’t keep the tires in the last stint.
“Our car can’t keep life in the tires as other cars. We could fight for almost the whole distance – but almost isn’t good enough.
“Otherwise, it seems like the whole team performed well, and Nico drove fantastically to try and get something.”
Big questions unanswered for 2024
Unlike most of the F1 field (Aston Martin, McLaren, Sauber), no substantial financial injection is expected at Haas. They managed to secure a title sponsor – MoneyGram – for the 2023 season, which was a positive development.
However, this will not be enough to drive the necessary investment required. Improvements to infrastructure and development facilities are an obvious next step. The team also needs to grow its number of staff, which is the lowest in Formula 1.
Although part of the appeal of Haas is their gritty determination amidst limited resources, this cannot last forever. They have failed to finish higher than 8th in the F1 standings since 2018. Unless there are fundamental changes, it is hard to imagine this changing in 2024 and beyond.
In relation to next season, Guenther Steiner’s plan to change the team’s fortunes will be fascinating to observe. For now, though, the strategy to definitively raise the ceiling at Haas seems undefined.