Steiner at a loss to understand ‘very, very weird’ Haas

The Haas VF-23 is suffering with high degradation of its tyres in traffic

The Haas VF-23 is suffering from high degradation of its tyres in traffic which has team boss Guenther Steiner at a loss

Haas team principal Guenther Steiner has conceded to being at a loss as to why this year’s Haas is ‘killing its tyres in traffic’.

Steiner has described the phenomenon as “very, very weird”, which has left him and his engineers struggling for answers.

In the opening grand prix of the season in Bahrain, the VF-23 suffered from severe degradation of the Pirelli rubber which led to drivers Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg finishing a lowly 13th and 15th respectively.

Following visits to a number of street circuits, F1 returned to a more conventional track in Barcelona at the weekend, but again the problem as witnessed in Bahrain returned with a vengeance.

Despite a superb qualifying performance from Hulkenberg, in particular, which saw him line up seventh on the grid, the German driver plummeted down the field during the race, finishing 15th, three places ahead of Magnussen, with both making three stops.

As to how well Haas currently understands the high level of degradation, speaking to Speedcafe, Steiner said: “Not very well.

“As soon as we start to get in the middle of cars, or follow other cars, we just have massive degradation and can never recover. That is our problem.

“I don’t know how we get out of it at the moment. We just need to regroup and see what it is because the car on its own, or when it comes out on new tyres, is actually not slow.

“It’s just as soon as we get into traffic or something…it doesn’t come back. That is the thing.”

Steiner confirmed the problem was “the same thing” as occurred in Bahrain, which has left him feeling “not comfortable” with the situation.

He added: “It’s not like ‘Oh yeah, we’re gonna fix it, we’re going to do something’. This one needs hard work.”

In 2019, Haas suffered a similar problem with degradation, as well as warm-up. The early suspicion was that the thinner tread on the Pirellis that year was the root cause.

It is understood the real issue, however, was that the rear tyres were sliding and being overworked due to the car stalling aerodynamically at the rear in slow and medium-speed corners in the braking and corner entry phase.

Asked whether the problem resembled 2019, Steiner replied: “I think that was a little bit different, and I don’t want to go into any detail.

“In ’19, we didn’t make any progress with the car aerodynamically. We did a lot of things and the car didn’t get quicker.

“But this is something very, very weird. We need to understand why we kill the tyres in traffic. I guess it’s a loss of downforce, nothing else.”

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