F1 news headlines are rarely far from the topic of Haas and their worryingly predictable mid-season decline.
Haas began the season with a new sense of optimism and promise. After several years in apparent financial difficulty, a new title partnership with MoneyGram promised to stabilise the team’s position. In theory, this would take away one of their main limitations.
After all, Guenther Steiner’s team has always been limited by its resources in Formula 1. For many observers, this season represented a chance to push forward and unlock new levels of development and investment.
Reality, however, became far less appealing for the American team. If anything, the last twelve months have demonstrated how deep-rooted their limitations are. Moreover, it is becoming increasingly clear that Haas lacks the firepower to match its rivals.
Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen are a return to the team’s more traditional driver model – experience and speed. Arguably, this is the strongest pairing to drive for the US outfit.
Although the standings don’t show it, Magnussen can claim a series of impressive performances in 2023. Even in the very limited VF-23, the Dane has scored points on three separate occasions – in arguably the worst car in F1.
Hulkenberg, meanwhile, is performing at a very high level. Three years away from a full-time drive hasn’t slowed him down, with the 38-year-old widely regarded as the top performer for Haas this season.
This is a positive development for the team from a competitive perspective – but there are other impacts. Most notably, the solidity of their driver combination means that the usual distraction isn’t there anymore. Full focus is diverted to how the team operates.
Simply put, the virtually non-existent development at Haas is impossible to ignore. Even their own drivers have spoken about this issue, a role reversal from the usual dynamic at Haas. Now sitting last in the standings, this position reflects their investment relative to other F1 teams.
If the American team is to compete with the likes of AlphaTauri and Williams – who are becoming increasingly competitive – they cannot continue operating in the same way.