Haas confirm ‘biggest changes’ yet as Red Bull concept attracts fresh defector

Jamie Woodhouse
Nico Hulkenberg pulls in for a pit stop. Hungary July 2023

Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg pulls in for a pit stop. Hungary July 2023

Haas boss Guenther Steiner confirmed a concept overhaul is coming to move them towards the Red Bull-inspired downwash philosophy, with step one scheduled for Austin.

While the new regulatory era in Formula 1 went against expectations with teams starting out using various concepts, the Red Bull solution has now come to the fore as the best, the Austrian outfit having won all 14 grands prix so far in F1 2023.

And having seen themselves slip from the head of the midfield to now battling towards the back of the grid in race trim, Haas determined that it was time for a change – their biggest yet – as they abandon ship on their current concept and take inspiration from Red Bull.

Haas knew they needed to ‘face reality’

Speaking ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix, Steiner confirmed that “quite a bit” will change with the VF-23 concept before F1 2023 is out, with the second of Haas’ three home races, the United States Grand Prix in Austin, identified as the venue where what is being described as a B-spec challenger will hit the track.

McLaren and Mercedes already have unveiled in-season B-spec machinery, McLaren in particularly benefiting from this decision as they surged from battling for points to podiums.

“The concept of the car will change, go in that [downwash] direction,” said Steiner.

“You’re limited with your chassis and a few other things as you all well know, but we are trying to go to that downwash shape now, like everyone else has got.

“We developed the whole year and there was nothing there anymore and at some stage you need to decide: ‘We need to do something different here’.

“We cannot keep on banging our head against the wall, crying and obviously the other ones, you look at the other cars and just see they keep on finding [performance]: McLaren changed the system like this, they find something, [and] at some stage you need to say: ‘We need to change concept, we need to face reality’.”

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Steiner said Haas were in the windtunnel before the summer break to assess whether they could begin implementing this concept change before F1 2024, and decided it was best to do so to maximise their learning opportunities.

“Before the summer break, we started to look at that and to see if it is feasible to do all that stuff, so they’ve been in the wind tunnel before the summer break to get this one done,” Steiner confirmed.

“We weren’t sure, should we do it this year or not, and then next year we go full that route.

“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 learn something which we can then integrate in next year’s car as well.”

Asked if these are the “biggest changes” Haas have ever made, Steiner confidently replied: “Yes.”

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