Nico Hulkenberg, among the most experienced active Formula 1 drivers, appears to align with critics’ sentiments regarding Haas’ underwhelming ‘B-spec’ upgrade, cautioning that the American outfit may find themselves at the bottom of the grid once again in 2024.
The German, who returned to Formula 1 this year and has been the standout performer within the sport’s smallest team, has not shied away from openly criticizing the team’s progress in 2023. When questioned about the gains made over the Interlagos weekend during the ‘B’ car’s third outing since its debut in Austin, Hulkenberg candidly remarked to Sky Deutschland, “Little to nothing.”
He elaborated on the challenges faced, stating, “We get something from one lap, but on the second and third laps, nothing works anymore. The old asphalt here really causes problems for our car. The aerodynamics completely disintegrates in some corners.”
Even team boss Gunther Steiner, who had high hopes for the ‘B’ car, acknowledges the disappointment. However, Hulkenberg takes a bleaker view of the situation, asserting, “It’s not a clear step forward. We understand that now and we know it. It feels similar in some places, better in some places, worse in some places. So at the end of the day it’s balanced. But we actually needed a real step forward in performance, and unfortunately that didn’t happen.”
With only two races remaining in the 2023 season and Haas set to finish at the bottom of the standings, concerns loom over their prospects for 2024. Hulkenberg expressed the need for a critical evaluation of the team’s car concept and aerodynamics for the upcoming season, acknowledging that this is the team’s “biggest weak point” that must be addressed. He warned, “Otherwise, it will be a similar story next year.”
Despite the struggles on the track, Hulkenberg remains resilient, stating, “Sundays aren’t usually that much fun. It’s not ideal, and I’m usually bitter on a Sunday afternoon – and then on Monday and Tuesday too. By Wednesday, I’ve usually digested it and I’m living my life,” he added with a smile.