Haas to introduce multiple upgrades in upcoming rounds

Jaden Diaz, Rosario Giuliana

With its VF-24, the Haas team is certainly one of the positive surprises at the beginning of 2024. The small American team, expected by many to be at the back, has instead proven capable of competing fully within the midfield. The Japanese GP, on the technical Suzuka track, did not bring any points to the team led by Ayao Komatsu. However, what was expected to be a difficult race for the VF-24 turned out to be another good performance:

“There are mixed feelings because, in the end, we couldn’t get into the top 10 by five seconds with Nico, which is very frustrating. The positive aspect is that our race pace today was much better than what we saw at the beginning of the weekend,” Komatsu explained.

The VF-24 is an excellent base, shares characteristics with the SF-24

For Haas, the Suzuka event represented an important obstacle to overcome due to the characteristics of the VF-24. The car of Gene Haas’s team, at the start of the 2024 world championship, showed excellent performance when moving forward, with decent efficiency qualities that the VF-24 inherited directly from the 2023 car.

Even at low and medium speeds, the VF-24 24 is competitive compared to its direct competitors. Still, it still lacks aerodynamic load, therefore at high speeds where it suffers a lot compared to the other teams in the midfield. However, the characteristic that most distinguishes this season’s American car from the previous one is the performance it manages to generate in the race compared above all to qualifying.

While last year there was a clear deterioration between Saturday and Sunday due to poor tyre management, this year the American team is top midfield also in this respect. The technical compromise of the VF-24 allows the Haas to be much more gentle on the use of tyres. This is a characteristic that the American car shares, not surprisingly, with the Ferrari SF-24, from which it purchases all the transferable parts, especially the mechanics but not only.

The ‘benign’ platform of the new American car is giving drivers and technicians a lot of satisfaction on the track. The team manages to extract more, in some areas, compared to what the factory instruments show. Just the opposite of Mercedes.

Hulkenberg’s eleventh position, despite the clutch stalling on the restart, which cost the German several positions, ultimately proved to be an excellent result and above all a further confirmation. Kevin Magnussen, on the other hand, struggled more, continuing his period of “crisis” compared to his teammate. This year, the car fits much better with the driving characteristics of the veteran German driver, who manages to be very effective, especially in qualifying, compared to the Dane. 

Haas wants to be more aggressive and efficient with updates this year. Bodywork refinements and new floor in China. The second package will arrive in Imola

The Chinese Grand Prix, with the return of F1 to Shanghai after four years, will be the stage for the first important updates for the Haas team. Since it has been in F1, the American team has often paid the price for not being able to count on high firepower compared to its competitors when it comes to updates. Often, the team found itself with a decent technical starting base, which, however, was not supported in relation to development during the season.

Komatsu, who took over the role of Team Principal at the beginning of 2024, wanted to impose some small internal reorganizations on the team by establishing greater communication between the departments after the departure of many technical profiles, including the former technical director Simone Resta. The Japanese engineer focused a lot of his attention on the technical direction to give to the team, especially with regard to development.

To a specific question related to the possibility that the American team could now be overtaken in that important race for updates by the larger teams, Komatsu explained the philosophy that it has tried to convey to its technical department in these few weeks of taking up the role of team principal. “If we increased the number of people right now, it would take at least six months before they could join us. So we only focused on the things we can really control, like work efficiency.

“We set priorities… It was the desire to bring the updates as soon as possible but in the most effective way possible,said the Japanese Team Principal and engineer. It is unsurprising that (as stated in the preview by the German colleagues at Auto Motor und Sport) new components will arrive in China. Initially, they will only be available to Magnussen.

This first package is a new floor, given that in Shanghai, there will be no spare parts for both cars. There is a small possibility that the second floor available could be mounted on Nico Hulkenberg’s VF-24 after Friday’s free practice instead of remaining as a spare in Magnussen’s garage. However, this scenario is risky due to possible accidents. The package decided for the fifth round of the season will also include a minor update to the bodywork, defined as a “refinement” of the current design, very “pro-Red Bull RB19” regarding the sidepods.

Haas should make this small update, much less complex and expensive to produce than the original, available to both Haas cars. The second important upgrade will arrive for the Emilia Romagna GP. In Imola, barring any delays, we will see a new front wing combined with a further important update to the floor. If there was correlation between track and factory for these first two seasonal packages. In that case, the chronometric target is defined as “significant” by the American team, improving the performance of the VF-24, especially at high speeds.