The 2023 season has witnessed a struggle for Haas to figure out how to manage the serious tyre complications that their car has been dealing with. This trouble with their tyres is preventing them from taking their qualifying pace and putting it to use during actual race stints.
Haas seems to be having a tougher time in high temperature, complex circuits where the tyres provided by Pirelli are pushed to their limits. The Italian Grand Prix is a case in point where the team’s performance could be described as nothing less than calamitous.
The Haas team with Nico Hulkenberg and his teammate Kevin Magnussen represented a rather dismal picture in Italy. They were the only drivers to be lapped and ended at a distant 17th and 18th positions. Hulkenberg was far from pleased, stating that “everyone was just driving through us, and we were not in the race.”
Even though they have been experimenting with solutions to lessen their tyre overheating problem, Haas has not been able to deploy an efficient solution so far. This has hit them hard, as evidenced by their standing in the constructors’ championship.
Before the second half of the season kicked off, Haas was sharing the seventh spot with Williams. However, post that, Alex Albon nearly increased the points of their competitors twice as much, while Haas‘s last time accumulating points was in Austria.
Haas is now trailing behind Williams with a gap of ten points, while Alfa Romeo is only trailing behind by a point. Hulkenberg confessed that Haas might not be able to catch up with Williams. “To be honest, Williams, they look like they’re gone,” he admitted. “They and McLaren obviously made huge progress this year. And I don’t see how we can turn this around unless we find something really magic.
Hulkenberg described the situation as disheartening. “On the low-downforce package, once the tyre has gone through the fresh kind of tyre life, it’s just one direction and that’s backwards,” he explained. “We’re just eating the tyre, the balance is poor, we’re sliding a lot more than other cars. Can’t keep the pace up, using more tyre. So, it was one of the toughest and worst races of the season.”
While Magnussen has been facing challenges with the control features of the VF-23, Hulkenberg showed some promise in Zandvoort where he finished 12th, indicating some positive strides with the car’s high downforce package.
The warmer weather in Singapore can potentially pose a problem for Haas, despite the race being held at night. Hulkenberg offered some insight saying “Definitely high track temperatures and sun some doesn’t help our case” but suggested that the stronger pace at Zandvoort could be indicative of potential improvement. He added that “The pace there looked much more promising and looking back the characteristic and the feel of the car was much better than this weekend.
Hulkenberg conveys a guarded optimism regarding upcoming races. He suggests that the team’s performance should improve and place them in a more competitive position. “[For the next races I am] cautiously optimistic, I think we should be in a better place. At least in a better place in the midfield, closer to being in a race.” he mentioned.