Steiner: ‘It’s not a magic solution’ as Haas upgrade poses questions
By Ian Parkes
Wednesday 25th October, 2023 - 5:08pm
Guenther Steiner has made clear Haas’ largest in-season upgrade in its eight-year history is no “magic solution” following a United States Grand Prix weekend that has left questions surrounding the package.
Following what has been a difficult F1 season for the team due to the tyre-chewing degradation of the VF-23s when in traffic, Haas has worked tirelessly on correcting the issue.
It led to it rolling out a major raft of upgrades, yet the complexity of the race weekend at the Circuit of The Americas means Haas now heads into this weekend’s Mexican Grand Prix unsure as to the overall performance of its car.
The situation was clouded by the fact there was only one practice session, meaning there was little time to evaluate and optimise setup before heading into qualifying on Friday evening after which the cars were locked down in parc fermé conditions.
That forced Haas into breaking parc fermé to work on the setup of both cars and deploy an alternative rear-wing assembly, leading to a pitlane start alongside the Aston Martins of Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll, with that team in the same boat as its rivals.
Drivers Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg took the chequered flag in 13th and 16th positions respectively, before being hoisted to 11th and 14th on the back of the disqualifications for Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc.
Magnussen feels the changes to the car “helped” but the team “still weren’t competitive enough”.
The Dane complained during the race that his car was ‘sliding at the rear’, adding: “We’ll look into things and see what we think.
“We helped the problem and I think we had a better race than what we would have had if we hadn’t changed, even though we were P14.
“Of course, I’m not happy, but we live to fight another day.”
With the remaining four races at very different circuits, Haas will at least obtain a platform on which it can build going into next season.
“With the different types of tracks we know that things can be up and down, that things could be different at the next race,” assessed Magnussen. “And Mexico is a very unique race as well with the ambient pressure and all that, so let’s see.
“I’m still curious to see how it (the upgrade) evolves when we get to play with the setup a little more and optimise things a little better.”
From Hulkenberg’s perspective, he felt “it was the right call to start from the pit lane and change the setup because it turned out to be much better.
“I think we were much more competitive but obviously, you’re paying a price for starting all the way from the back.
“It wasn’t easy, it felt tricky, a lot of management going on, but obviously relative to others the pace was okay from what I could see and judge. There are some positive signs.
“I obviously need to see more data and understand a bit better but it’s been a long time that I’ve actually overtaken people and not got overtaken, so it felt good.”
Steiner declared the race to be “tough”, although concurred with his drivers that the pitlane start was the correct call given it allowed the team to make “modifications to the downforce level”.
“We learned quite a bit and hopefully we can look into the data and get a little bit better in Mexico,” said Steiner.
“It’s not a magic solution that we’ve got now, but some of the comments from Kevin and Nico were encouraging, so let’s hope we can get closer to what is possible with the car in Mexico.”