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Haas F1 Team

F1 2023 season review: Haas flop as stark contrasts develop

Haas finished last in the Constructors' Championship for the second time in three seasons, but an alarming slump in performance could not be rectified as frustrations spilled over.

Magnussen mexico
Analysis
To news overview © RN365/Michael Potts

Compared to rock bottom of 2021, Haas made tangible progress in 2022 and climbed once again into the Formula 1 midfield.

The partnership of sophomore driver Mick Schumacher and the returning Kevin Magnussen combined for 37 points and eighth in the standings, with experienced midfield ace Nico Hulkenberg drafted in as Schumacher's replacement for 2023.

A reasonable midfield package, two perfectly competent if not totally outstanding Grand Prix drivers, and a new title sponsor in the bag meant Haas somewhat had its ducks in a row heading into the season.

But it was quickly found that the VF-23's original package had no real upgrade potential so the team put all its chips into a huge upgrade for the United States Grand Prix, reworking the bodywork of the car.

The car, in both old and new specifications, had a ferocious appetite for Pirelli tyres with the team unable to get to the root cause of the mechanical problems causing it despite the vast upgrade in Austin.

For Las Vegas, Hulkenberg even reverted to the old spec as he felt more comfortable in it while Magnussen preserved with the updated car. Teams will sometimes run an old and new spec to back-to-back them over a practice session, but it is rare to do over multiple Grand Prix weekends.

Frustrations, particularly from Hulkenberg boiled over towards the end of a season in which Haas failed to find solutions and was simply left behind.

Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen

Hulkenberg banked nine points across the season to Magnussen's three, with exactly half of Haas's 12 points coming from Hulkenberg's seventh place in Australia.

But it was in qualifying where the German shone, with some outstanding laps to beat Magnussen 15-7 over the course of the season.

Take Abu Dhabi as an example.

While Magnussen was a lowly 17th on the grid, Hulkenberg lined up a strong eighth on the grid, but his attempts at points were hamstrung by the season-long trend of eating through the tyres at an alarming rate. He finished 15th, 28 seconds away from the points.

Reflecting on the troubles, the German was particularly spiky in his comments, which was well on the way of reversing the bus having thrown the team under it.

"An update is supposed to be better and fix some of your issues and unfortunately, that didn't happen," he explained to media including RacingNews365 post-race at Yas Marina.

"The signs were there early in the season, and we got away with it earlier in the season because other people also were struggling. Next year we have to do things differently.

"That has been our problem this year. Our development was at a standstill and we have been brutally overtaken."

Perhaps there is some justification for his mindset after those outstanding qualifying performances were rewarded with simply going backwards in races, while Magnussen's more diplomatic approach could be explained by the fact he never got on with either iteration of VF-23 and that there is not a lot to be annoyed about finishing well out of the points if you start well out of them.

Both drivers entered the season happy to be back on the grid in a full-time drive having fallen off in recent years, content in being in F1 looking out as opposed to on the outside looking in, but another season like 2023 will not be tolerated by either.

Guenther Steiner

Boss Guenther Steiner has overseen another season of finishing last in the Constructors', as Haas's downward trend since fifth in 2018 continues.

After those small steps forward in 2022, the team and Steiner finds themselves right back at square one when building the '24 machine.

"I was surprised that the problem was we didn't find any performance in development," Steiner explained.

"It wasn't that we didn't want to, or couldn't bring upgrades, but we didn't bring upgrades because bringing an upgrade that doesn't make the car faster has no point.

"I was surprised that we didn't make any progress and development in the wind-tunnel.

"It comes with the concept of how we started, and we just couldn't find any performance anymore, so that is when we changed the concept."

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F1 2023 season reviews RN365 News dossier

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