In F1, where every millisecond counts, Haas team’s new ‘B’ car was the glimmer of hope for 2023 – and 2024. But, as Austin witnessed, that shimmer quickly faded.
Both Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg pinned their aspirations on this rare significant upgrade for the struggling and small team. With its Red Bull-like aerodynamic blueprint, this machine was meant to address a recurring issue: the rapid wear of tires. Magnussen, with a palpable hint of anticipation, had remarked to Ekstra Bladet, “We’re all nervous about whether the car is better with the tyres now. That’s the performance we’re really looking for.”
Yet, Austin proved a tough testing ground. Magnussen’s journey with the ‘B’ car saw him peak at the 14th spot in a single lap, only to grapple and conclude the Saturday’s sprint at the 18th position. Reflecting on the car’s performance, a somewhat disheartened Magnussen said, “The pace dropped off a lot… the well-known cycle of getting overtaken and the tyres dropping off started.”
Hulkenberg’s sentiment echoed the disappointment, “doesn’t look too good” was his succinct takeaway post-sprint. The team’s mood was summarized by its boss, Gunther Steiner, “At the moment, we have to find more as the upgrade has not done what we expected.”
Yet, Haas wasn’t alone in their struggle. Aston Martin, despite their own latest upgrades amid a slump, found it tough in Austin. Fernando Alonso, hinting at a potentially point-less race weekend, contemplated, “We’ll discuss if it’s better to play with the setup and start from pitlane… Otherwise doing 56 laps just for the sake of doing them seems like a long race.” However, with a glint of hope, he added, “In Mexico, with more practice, we believe the car can show more because we haven’t optimised it.”