Haas VF-24 performs better on track than in the simulator

Jaden Diaz, Piergiuseppe Donadoni
14/04/2024

Much like Williams last season, Haas have emerged as the ‘surprise’ of 2024. Similarly, they have taken 7th in the standings, securing four points in the first four rounds. The Racing Bulls are just behind, with 7 points and the five leading teams clearly still uncatchable for the second block.

Gene Haas’ team was very good at taking advantage of retirements from the top teams to finish in the points.

In the 2024 grid, barring retirements or lacklustre performances from the top ten drivers, eleventh place (0 points) is the first available for the midfield of this 2024 F1. To make performance progress, an initial part of the first update package will arrive in China, which will then be completed in Imola.

THE VF-24 IS SEVENTH-FASTEST CAR

During the winter, the VF-24 was given as the single-seater destined to occupy the last row of the grid after a very gloomy 2023 in terms of results, which partially influenced the choice not to renew Gunther Steiner’s contract.

The Italian manager and engineer was replaced by Ayao Komatsu. The former Director of Engineering, therefore, with a more technical profile, immediately wanted to keep the team’s expectations very low.

However, the American car has shown that it can fight on equal terms in the midfield. After a strong start to 2024, Guenther Steiner (now a commentator) has revealed that Haas heavily downplayed expectations in pre-season.

According to the former Team Principal, the wind tunnel data was already very positive in December before his departure.

In this context, Ayao Komatsu went into more detail on why he didn’t want to create important expectations in the pre-season.

“We knew how much we would find on the track. But having started two months late, necessary to work on the Austin update, I expected that the other teams would also have found the same profit as us,” stated the Japanese engineer.

“It wasn’t about hiding because I knew the numbers coming out of the wind tunnel, which weren’t huge. And I never would have thought that they would have been enough for seventh place. But how can you expect Alpine to do such a job? Who could have predicted this?”

THE HAAS VF-24 HAS A ‘BENIGN’ PLATFORM, UNLIKE THE MERCEDES W15

However, there is more because, in certain areas, the VF-24 performs better on the track than the American team’s technicians expected. Unlike, for example, Mercedes, which does not perform as the simulations would like. It’s mainly a question of platform.

At the start of the season, some technicians and even team principals have used the term ‘benign to indicate what a team would like to see on the track.

“The VF-24 is a much more drivable car than the previous one,” Komatsu explained.

“If you have a ‘benign’ car, perhaps in terms of absolute performance, you could be slower. But nine times out of ten, the driver manages to extract the most from it. However, if you have a toxic car, a driver can only push it to the limit every now and then.” 

The technicians of the American team in the tunnel, taking the given output number as truthful, see some characteristics that are not exceptional.

However, the VF-24 is much more usable on the track. This allows drivers to extract more potential than what the technicians see in the factory.

On the contrary, the Mercedes W15 is a car that is still strongly limited by various factors. By bouncing, especially with the new cross-country version, and by external factors such as wind and asphalt temperatures, for example.

This is why Mercedes can sometimes regress from Friday practice to Saturday qualifying. The concept of a ‘benign’ platform is the basis of Red Bull’s dominance. Since 2022, the Austrian team has understood this philosophy. Pursuing usable performance is a more efficient approach than simply chasing peak performance.

From this point of view, Haas is closer to Red Bull than Mercedes, although it may seem strange given that the W15 is certainly faster than the VF-24 on the track.

The latter is especially lacking in fast speed, something the American team is working on and the updates arriving in China and Imola will have the function of improving the important deficit that has limited the American car at the start of the season.

Autori

SEGUICI SU

Podcast