Ferrari reliability concerns continue after second power unit goes ‘bang’

Jamie Woodhouse
Nico Hulkenberg steps out of broken down Haas. Austria, July 2023.

Nico Hulkenberg steps out of the Haas VF-23 after a power unit failure. Austria, July 2023.

After a second Ferrari power unit went ‘bang’ in as many race weekends for Haas and Nico Hulkenberg, the team’s alarming race pace in addition made for a double whammy in Austria.

Performance over one lap is not a problem for the Haas team, as Hulkenberg further demonstrated with a pair of Q3 appearances in Austria across traditional qualifying and the sprint shootout.

Hulkenberg actually qualified P4 for the sprint and was running in the podium places for much of it, before Haas’ nemesis, tyre management, returned to trigger a drop back down the order for Hulkenberg who still managed to hold on to a P6 finish.

Austrian Grand Prix disaster for Haas

Starting within the top 10 once more via Hulkenberg on Grand Prix Sunday, he would launch from P8 but quickly ran into fresh difficulties keeping that Pirelli rubber happy. Team-mate Kevin Magnussen started from the pit lane after suspension changes.

By Lap 12 Hulkenberg was already in the pits to switch to the hard compound tyre, the most durable in the Pirelli range, but it would only need to take the German racer through the next couple of tours of the Red Bull Ring as by Lap 14, he was pulling off the track with smoke coming from the Haas VF-23.

With that Hulkenberg’s race was over, and having needed a new Internal Combustion Engine at the last round in Canada following a failure in FP2, team boss Guenther Steiner was not best pleased to see another breakdown, coupled with Haas’ severe handicap of tyre management only intensifying the pain.

“Thankfully we got some points yesterday when we had the opportunity,” said Steiner.

“Today has been a very disappointing day for us, another PU failure on Nico’s car and obviously the car is not fast enough in dry conditions.

“We’ve got a lot of work in front of us, and we will keep on working. When we have the tools, we can get good results as we showed yesterday, we just need to do our homework.”

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Nico Hulkenberg suggests Haas pushed into water too deep

Hulkenberg revealed that the issue first started appearing after he had made that pit stop, and feels that the pace of rivals around them is perhaps pushing Haas into waters too deep to navigate currently.

“We don’t know the full picture, but after the first stop the issue occurred and we lost power and couldn’t continue,” Hulkenberg stated.

“It’s not ideal, it makes things more difficult going forward because we have less information, but we have to make the most of what we have.

“We’re surrounded by quicker cars that are pushing on from behind, forcing us to go at a pace we’re not necessarily able to keep up with.

“The positive is the two very good qualifying sessions this weekend, and obviously a very good sprint, so at least we have that.”

Magnussen finished the race P18, though it would have been P19 and last if it were not for Yuki Tsunoda receiving post-race time penalties for track limits breaches.

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