American-based Formula 1 team, Haas, remains the sole outlier in following the controversial in-wash layout, an option their technical partner Ferrari adopted at the commencement of the new regulation era. However, Ferrari abandoned this strategy after the Spanish Grand Prix while Mercedes axed its zero pods in Monaco, hence leaving Haas as the only team persisting with the in-wash design.
This dynamic, however, is set to alter during next month’s Austin race. Haas intends to incorporate a major sidepod overhaul to enable the switch to a downwash system, a design Red Bull has effectively harnessed. This strategic shift was triggered prior to the summer recess after Haas hit a plateau with their existing car’s performance.
Expressing the team’s frustration, principal Guenther Steiner said, “That was our biggest problem with the concept we have now, we couldn’t find any performance any more.” He added, “We developed the whole year and there was nothing there. At some stage, you need to do something different, and we could not keep on banging our heads against the wall trying, while the other ones kept on finding gains.”
Moreover, Haas‘s inability to enhance their car’s performance using the current concept indicated a hold on spending from the 2023 budget for upgrades. Steiner provided further clarity, “The plan was to have more upgrades with the concept we have got now. But because we didn’t find performance, we didn’t introduce upgrades this year.” He elucidated, “There’s no point to make car parts if the car doesn’t go faster, so because we haven’t spent that money, we can now spend it on this big upgrade.”
Despite potential architectural constraints of the current VF-23 model, Haas remains confident in the adaptation to the downwash design. With expectations of vital lessons being drawn from this change before the complete transition to the downwash concept in 2024. As Steiner explained, “We weren’t sure if we should do it this year or not, but then next year we were going to go full that route.” He continued, “We had to say, let’s do something this year, so at least we learn as much as possible for next year on that concept. And maybe we learn something that you can then integrate into next year’s car as well out of the racetrack.”