Despite a rocky start and critical reception branding it a “flop”, Haas F1 Team is not ready to throw in the towel on their newly launched ‘B’ 2023 car. The American team’s disappointment was palpable after a less-than-stellar debut in Austin, a race many had hoped would showcase the potential of what team boss Gunther Steiner described as “the biggest upgrade in our history.”
In the midst of this challenging phase, there appears to be a glimmer of optimism. “Some of Kevin (Magnussen) and Nico (Hulkenberg)’s statements were encouraging,” Steiner reflected post-race, highlighting the drivers’ perspective on the new development.
Magnussen, in a candid moment with Auto Motor und Sport, explained the necessity of the ‘B’ package. “We had to do a reset,” he stated. “We couldn’t get any further with the old car. We realized that more downforce wasn’t going to work – we need more stable downforce and fewer balance shifts.”
A significant part of the car’s struggles can be traced back to the limited practice time in Austin due to the ‘sprint’ weekend format. This resulted in both Haas cars starting from the pitlane in their home race, a stark indication of how the initial setup went awry on Friday.
Ayao Komatsu, Haas’ engineering boss, maintained a positive outlook, “At least we learned how not to do it,” he quipped.
Hulkenberg, with a pragmatic stance, deemed the sacrifice in the US GP as “worth it”. “Despite starting from the pits, we were close to the Williams,” he observed. “For the first time in a long time, I overtook other cars instead of only being overtaken.”
Yet, he also acknowledged the vehicle’s imperfections. “The car has improved in some areas, but it has also adopted a few weaknesses from its predecessor.”
A glaring issue remains the car’s tendency to wear down tires quickly, a challenge that Steiner insists requires a new rear suspension – a solution that won’t be available until the next season.
“We’re dependent on Ferrari for that,” he said.
So, as the pundits rush to judgments, Haas is choosing resilience and a belief in their direction. “It’s not that we did a bad job, it was just very tight to get such a big upgrade started,” Steiner explained. “But we knew the risk and took it, and I think we know a lot more now than we did before. But we still don’t know how good it is yet. At least we are heading in the right direction.”