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Nico Hulkenberg: Haas “definitely made improvements” with VF-24

Nico Hulkenberg is confident that Haas F1 Team has made a step forward with the VF-24.

The last twelve months have been challenging for Haas. Despite Nico Hulkenberg regularly performing heroics in qualifying last season, the American outfit finished last place in the standings.

This was primarily due to poor tyre degradation, which made scoring points almost impossible for Haas.

Promising Saturdays often became ugly and painful Sundays, cementing the team’s fate in a season to forget.

In the last few months, owner Gene Haas fired team principal Guenther Steiner. In his place, Ayao Komatsu was promoted to lead the team in 2024 and beyond.

Simply put, the rift that ultimately saw Steiner depart was related to investment. The former team principal wanted to see increased spending to improve the infrastructure at Haas.

However, the team’s owner did not share this perspective. Therefore, the 58-year-old’s replacement faces the challenge of optimising the limited tools at his disposal.

Komatsu has been open about Haas’ limitations, downplaying their chances of competing in the opening round.

Moreover, before Bahrain testing, the Japanese engineer emphasised that tyre management – not performance – would be the priority.

He was true to his word, with the VF-24 almost exclusively focusing on long-run pace. There was very little interest in completing qualifying simulations.

At least so far, this approach seems to have generated some results.

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Hulkenberg pleased with early progress

This is evidenced by the relatively optimistic tune Nico Hulkenberg is singing heading into this weekend:

“Overall, pre-season testing was good and positive. It’s always difficult, I don’t want to get too excited or over-enthusiastic.

“But we’ve definitely made an improvement in certain areas where we were struggling last year.

“That’s good to see and feel, but that was very much needed.

“It’s too early to say where we are in the field.

“But it was a fun few days, and was successful from a testing execution and reliability point of view.”

To be clear, this does not eliminate all of the limitations that have obstructed progress at Haas in recent seasons.

A lack of investment and capacity to develop – quite fundamentally – will remain limiting factors.

However, amidst the generally negative coverage surrounding Ayao Komatsu’s team, there are glimmers of hope.

The pace shown by Ferrari could be especially significant, given the ties between the US and Italian outfits.


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