Haas team principal Guenther Steiner is confident that his team can make improvements through 2023 – avoiding the limited development that has historically compromised them.
Nico Hulkenberg’s P7 finish at the Australian GP has propelled Haas into a respectable 7th place in the Constructors’ standings, cementing the American squad as a legitimate threat in the midfield.
There were early concerns that the VF-23 was severely limited by tyre degradation, with the team’s drop in performance from qualifying to race in Bahrain validating these fears from pre-season.
However, consecutive points in Jeddah and Australia – with Hulkenberg showing especially strong pace and tyre management in the latter Grand Prix – demonstrate Haas’ progress in addressing this weakness.
The DNA of Formula 1 consists of a relentless drive to improve and develop mid-season, which is an area that has historically been a weakness for the American squad.
Speaking ahead of last weekend’s Australian GP, team principal Guenther Steiner expressed his confidence that Haas will not fall behind in the development race:
“At the moment, we are thinking of attacking, not just defending. Everybody is pretty happy – but not happy enough not to work hard.
“So everyone is working hard, first of all, so we can keep this performance – but more importantly to better the performance.
“Last year, we had a good year where we could go back into the groove after 2020 and 2021 when we were struggling…
“Absolutely, we are working hard on development. You know, performance on these cars is hard to come by because we are in the second year of these regulations.
“So the further you get in, the more difficult it is to find performance. So every little bit you need to take and bring to the car.”
The 2022 season was the first time since 2019 that Haas could compete for points on a semi-regular basis, so in some ways, it was a positive year.
However, the team’s failure to introduce any meaningful upgrades throughout the year saw them plummet in the second half of the season – hanging on to 8th in the Constructors by the skin of their teeth.
Considering the level of competition in the midfield this year, Haas cannot afford to slip down the order.
Guenther Steiner has previously revealed that new sponsorship – most notably in the form of title sponsors MoneyGram – will allow the American outfit to reach the F1 budget cap.
This will help the team with its ability to invest in new parts and develop the VF-23 as the year progresses.
Haas’ two points-finishes in 2023 are two early examples of the teams’ improved operational efficiency – which will also be crucial in the battle this year.
It can also be said with confidence that Haas currently has its strongest-ever driver pairing, with Nico Hulkenberg already demonstrating why he deserves a seat in F1.
Plenty of positives can be said about Haas at this stage of the season, but there will be sustained pressure for the team to maintain this performance and keep up with its rivals.