Hulkenberg on Haas 2023 development: “A message to our factory”

MELBOURNE GRAND PRIX CIRCUIT, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 31: Nico Hulkenberg, Haas F1 Team during the Australian GP at Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit on Friday March 31, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Jake Grant / LAT Images)

Nico Hulkenberg was a frustrated figure after the Abu Dhabi GP, with Haas finishing the season last in the F1 standings. Perhaps more pressingly for the team, Hulkenberg believed they haven’t progressed in 2023.

The American team began the year in a reasonable fashion. Kevin Magnussen’s points in Jeddah and Miami and Hulkenberg’s P7 in Australia put the team in a strong position in the standings.

However, these results ultimately flattered the VF-23. Despite being more than fast enough to secure many Q3 appearances, the VF-23 failed to keep its tyres alive in the race.

The car’s ability to generate heat in its tyres was a huge strength in qualifying. It’s on race day, however, when the speed and endurance of a car are truly tested. On this front, Guenther Steiner’s team failed. 

CIRCUIT PAUL RICARD, FRANCE – JULY 23: Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1, on the pit wall during the French GP at Circuit Paul Ricard on Saturday July 23, 2022 in Le Castellet, France. (Photo by Alastair Staley / LAT Images)

Haas introduced just one major update package in the 2023 campaign, which arrived in COTA. Unfortunately for their drivers and engineers, it failed to generate significant performance.

According to their driver duo, the changes arguably made the car worse. Hulkenberg and Magnussen eventually ran old specifications to end the year, as Haas took the opportunity to collect more data.

Speaking after the Abu Dhabi GP, Nico Hulkenberg was blunt in his assessment:

“I have demonstrated that the new car is not faster,” he told Sky Germany.

“And that is quite clearly a problem.”

The German driver ran the old-spec Haas in Yas Marina, whilst Magnussen used the updated car.

Hulkenberg was comfortably faster than his Danish teammate in qualifying and the race – a chilling realisation for the team.

“It’s a message to our factory, the engineers and the mechanics,” continued ‘The Hulk’.

“Next year, we have to do things differently. That has been our problem this year. Our development was at a standstill.”

Overall, the 36-year-old reflections seem accurate enough about the situation at the American team.

The next twelve months will ultimately prove whether Haas will develop a capacity to meaningfully progress via mid-season updates.