Nico Hulkenberg believes a lack of mid-season development is responsible for Haas’ decline in 2023 so far. A limited ability to introduce upgrades has been a topic for the American team for many years, with F1 news outlets often scrutinising their failures to keep up with rivals.
Guenther Steiner announced early in the season that Haas was preparing a sustained upgrade plan for 2023 – in a bid to bounce back from their stagnation in last year’s campaign.
Unfortunately for the US squad, the first 12 rounds of the year have proven that most other teams on the grid can develop at a faster and more effective rate.
The lack of investment into R&D facilities at Haas is well-established, with the team operating on the lowest budget in Formula 1.
Even with the budget cap, Steiner’s team was operating at a slight deficit to the rest of the field going into this season.
Many of the issues that plagued Ferrari and the SF-23 in Bahrain continue to impact the American outfit at the halfway stage. This link is unsurprising, given the notable volume of parts that Haas takes from Maranello.
However, it is no doubt disappointing for Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen that their team has failed to reverse its worrying trend in terms of mid-season development.
Speaking after the Belgian GP, the German driver was open about his interpretation of the situation:
“To solve the problem and increase performance, you can’t find the solution on the street – it’s a bit more complex,” he told the media in Belgium.
“I think this year we can improve the situation… But it’s a long-term thing, for sure.
“What we really need are some updates, some real performance, to help us.
“That’s what we need. Obviously, this track once again exposed the weaknesses of our car.
“That’s why we weren’t competitive in any session or lap, in my opinion. There’s a lot of work to do.”
Courtesy of the 35-year-old’s points in Austria, Haas is still in the fight for 7th place in the standings – equal on points with James Vowles’ Williams team.
The resurgence of McLaren and Aston Martin severely restricts the points available for lower midfield teams such as Haas.
Somewhat counter-intuitively, this has been helpful for Guenther Steiner’s team – limiting the likes of AlphaTauri in their ability to close down the gap.
Securing relatively big points when the front-runners suffer retirements (such as in the Australian GP) can outdo the efforts of drivers (such as Yuki Tsunoda) who consistently scramble for P10 finishes.
With that said, Haas cannot rely on others failing to score points if they want to remain competitive in the midfield and avoid being in F1 news headlines for falling down the standings.
Author: Jaden Diaz-Ndisang