Haas continues to battle with significant tyre degradation, an issue that has persisted throughout the season. Only Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi remain on this year’s schedule, meaning there is little time to rectify the situation.
When the 2023 season began, these were the words of Haas team principal Guenther Steiner:
“At the moment, we are thinking of attacking, not just defending. Everybody is pretty happy – but not happy enough not to work hard.
“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.”
These declarations were in response to the question marks surrounding the typical development trends at Haas. For the American team, a typical pattern can be spotted across several seasons.
Despite operating with relatively limited resources, they often start the year in strong form. The 2022 season, for example, saw Guenther Steiner’s team regularly contending for points in the early stages.
However, it wasn’t long before they fell down the order in a relatively predictable fashion.
A similar lack of progression can be identified in 2023, although perhaps at a more alarming rate. The VF-23 was never a world-beater to start the year, but it seemed a reasonably competitive machine.
Hulkenberg scored important points at the Australian GP, whilst Kevin Magnussen hosted his car into the points at Jeddah and Miami. Whilst there were a few concerns about tyre degradation, this didn’t seem detrimental.
As this year’s campaign has progressed, the issue of tyres continues to elude the American team. If anything, their problems have become more pronounced.
Having introduced just one major upgrade package in 2023, their chances of fixing this issue have always been limited. Another key factor is that the VF-23’s updates were introduced in Austin – relatively late in the year.
This further complicated the team’s efforts to understand and optimise them.
With that said, Guenther Steiner’s team now has a larger sample size from which to analyse their data. As it stands, there is no observable progress from their changes:
“It’s not good enough. We have this tyre degradation, and it just seems that we can’t get it under control,” Guenther Steiner admitted in Brazil.
“We need to keep working on it, as there’s no way out of this without a lot of effort.”
Excluding a shock turn of events, Haas will finish 2023 at the bottom of the standings.
Moreover, unless the team understands their issues relatively soon, they risk heading into the winter with more questions than answers.