Revealed: The F1 dark horses you need to watch after stellar British Grand Prix

Uros Radovanovic

Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg.

Haas delivered another strong performance at the British Grand Prix, continuing the excellent form they showcased in Austria. The American team looked notably faster on track, thanks in part to a significant upgrade package unveiled this past weekend.

Let’s delve into the technical changes Haas implemented and assess whether these developments signal their competitive edge in the midfield battle.

Haas’s slow start and significant progress

Currently, Haas sits seventh in the Constructors’ Championship with 27 points, 20 of which they earned in the last two races. Just ahead of them is the VCARB team with 31 points, setting the stage for an exciting rivalry as the season progresses.

At the start of the season, Haas made a bold move by replacing team principal Guenther Steiner with Japanese engineer Ayao Komatsu. Despite initial scepticism, especially after some poor early-season performances, Komatsu seems to have brought significant improvements. The team appears more organised both on and off the track, with clear progress visible.

Things took a positive turn at the Austrian Grand Prix, where the team achieved their best result since 2022 on the same track. The Red Bull Ring, with its favourable tyre degradation and track characteristics, suited their car very well. They were among the fastest on the long straights, helping them defend more effectively against competitors.

As anticipated, Haas arrived at Silverstone with the B-spec version of their VF-24 car, available to both drivers, aiming to continue their strong results.

The B-Spec Haas VF-24

This weekend, we saw seven upgrades on the Haas cars. Significant changes included modifications to the floor, floor edges, sidepods, sidepod inlets, and engine cover. Haas tends to introduce a major upgrade package around mid-season, rarely making substantial changes thereafter.

The most noticeable upgrade was the sidepod inlet, now featuring the well-known overbite geometry concept initiated by Red Bull at the season’s start. The new inlet design, similar to McLaren’s, is not as elongated as some other teams, aiming to improve the airflow over the top surface of the sidepod, directing it more efficiently towards the beam wing and diffuser. This change enhances the aero elements’ effectiveness, contributing to better airflow under the car and increasing downforce.

Accompanying this was a new engine cover geometry to optimise the overall aerodynamics. The new sidepod design also facilitated the installation of additional cooling gills.

With the narrower inlet, changes were made to the mirror stay as well. This element’s position was adjusted to better control the flow over the sidepod, increasing the load towards the rear of the car.

However, the most crucial aerodynamic elements are located under the car in the current era of Formula 1, making it difficult to analyse such significant changes externally. Haas’s official FIA document indicated that the floor geometry was altered to improve air mass flow and expansion, enhancing low-pressure distribution and downforce.

The floor fences were optimised to direct incoming air more efficiently, aligning with changes made to the floor itself. The floor edge was also modified to extract more airflow, aiming to reduce air pressure beneath the car where it’s most needed.

Key headlines following thrilling British GP

👉 Ferrari announce departure of key technical figure with Aston Martin move rumoured

👉 Untelevised British GP footage shows Max Verstappen moment with Lewis Hamilton

Evaluating the efficiency of the new upgrades

Although the sample size of just one race is small, there are indicators of Haas’s genuine progress. The first sign was evident during FP2, where Nico HĂĽlkenberg was the fourth fastest driver on track.

HĂĽlkenberg’s strong performance continued in qualifying, securing an impressive sixth position. His qualifying prowess has been a highlight this season, consistently reaching Q3, unlike his teammate, who hasn’t achieved this once in 2024.

Haas shone in the first sector during qualifying, recording the best time among all teams.

It was already known that the American car excelled on straights, frequently topping the speed charts. Now, they’ve demonstrated competitiveness in corners as well. Additionally, their deficit in the third sector was minimal, with Nico just 0.167s behind the fastest time set by George Russell, partly due to the long DRS zone in that sector.

However, the true test for the new car will come in two weeks at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The Hungaroring features only one straight and one DRS zone, not playing to Haas’s strengths. This circuit, with its many slow corners, will be a real challenge and an intriguing test of how the VF-24 performs under different conditions.

Read next: Significant Oscar Piastri data discovery adds to Lando Norris’ Silverstone pain