Haas take drastic action for Las Vegas GP with ‘nothing to lose’

Oliver Harden
Guenther Steiner, former Haas principal.

Former Haas team principal Guenther Steiner.

Nico Hulkenberg will revert to an old aerodynamic specification for the Las Vegas GP with bottom-placed Haas convinced there is now “nothing to lose” with two races of the F1 2023 season remaining.

Haas introduced a B-spec car at last month’s United States GP at Austin, with F1 technical analysts commenting on the design’s similarity to the World Championship-winning Red Bull RB19.

However, the new-look VF-23 has not altered the team’s trajectory, with Haas currently bottom of the Constructors’ standings – four points behind ninth-placed Alfa Romeo – having failed to score a point since September’s Singapore GP.

Haas in desperate search for points as F1 heads to Las Vegas

With Hulkenberg struggling with the revised car compared to team-mate Kevin Magnussen, the German has opted to switch back to the previous spec for Vegas.

Team principal Guenther Steiner has revealed that the move has been made with the aim of giving each driver the best possible platform to score points in the final double header in Vegas and Abu Dhabi.

He said: “The main drive behind this was Nico feels that for him the old spec suits him better, and Kevin is the opposite. We’ve opted to give them what they want, we have two races to go and nothing to lose, so we’ve tried to do what we can.

“We could discuss gathering data, but we’ve got enough data, it’s a decision based on what each driver likes more than anything else. It puts them in a comfortable position so that they’re as happy as they can be with the car they get.”

Haas’s decision to revert back to an older specification with Hulkenberg comes after Aston Martin enjoyed success after doing the same in Brazil, where Lance Stroll and Fernando Alonso secured the team’s best two-car qualifying result since the Lawrence Stroll-led rebrand in 2021.

Alonso went on to claim only his second podium finish since the summer break, with development mistakes blamed for Aston Martin’s mid-season slump after starting the season with six podiums in eight races.

PlanetF1.com recommends

F1 2023: Head-to-head qualifying and race stats between team-mates

Revealed: The F1 2023 World Championship standings without Red Bull

As the only American team on the current grid, Vegas will be Haas’s third home race of 2023 after visits to Miami and Austin earlier this season.

Steiner believes the three races in the United States each bring a different flavour to the F1 calendar, likening the differences in atmosphere to racing on separate continents.

He explained: “I think it’s fantastic to have three races in the States, especially as the American team. Five or 10 years ago, who’d have thought that we’d have more than one race in the US?

“Now we’ve got three and they’re all very different events – as they would be if we were racing in different continents, not just country. I think it’s good for Formula 1 and the American fans who are coming more to watch and support.

“The standout point for me is the difference between each race. You go to Austin, which is a more ‘traditional’ race with lots of hardcore fans, and then you go to Miami where it’s party central, and then let’s see what Vegas brings.

“We know it won’t ever be sleeping and we’re racing at night, which is completely different again.”

Read next: Seven quirky Las Vegas facts ahead of F1’s newest adventure