Haas team boss Guenther Steiner admitted they “went to hell quick” in F1 2023 as a brick wall was hit in the wind tunnel, prompting their concept change.
Haas started the ground effect era strong in 2022, but since then such heights have been hard to hit as the team slumped to last in the F1 2023 Constructors’ Championship standings.
The call had long since been made though to go down a different concept route, Haas introducing a B-Spec challenger for the United States Grand Prix to gather crucial data and learnings for this new direction heading into F1 2024.
Guenther Steiner explains concept switch as Haas “went to hell”
While the rethink, which took Haas down the Red Bull concept path, did not deliver instant results on the track, Steiner said the new direction was needed as no more performance could be extracted from their old concept.
Put to him that F1 2023 was the “season from hell” for Haas, Steiner told Channel 4: “Yeah, or close to hell.
“Beginning of the year was not too bad, but then we went to hell pretty quick.
“We started off and I was confident that we can keep on making improvements, but we didn’t find any performance in the car. We went to the wind tunnel and couldn’t find anything.
“And then at some stage we decided to change concept of the car because there was nothing left in it. There was no juice left in that concept.
“We went in the wind tunnel and came out of the wind tunnel with the same downforce.”
Haas in recent years made a U-turn on their driver philosophy, having moved away from fielding rookies to championing the experience of Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen.
And Steiner said this has proven highly valuable to the team as they look to get back on the right path, saying that when a driver with over 200 grand prix starts like Hulkenberg says something, it can be trusted.
“So obviously then the drivers, there was no doubt that the car wasn’t where it should be and they both agreed that we’re not going anywhere,” Steiner continued.
“Nico, the good thing with the experience he’s got, when he speaks, you know that he has done that before and then you can trust [when] he said the car isn’t where it should be and it was very helpful.
“It just gives you confidence that you’re not like, ‘Oh, is it the car? Is it the driver? What is it?’
“And the combination, no performance gained in the wind tunnel and the drivers saying the car is a handful to drive because you never know what it’s doing next, it proved that.
“It didn’t solve our problem, because we have to do that.”
A crucial off-season now looms for Haas as the American outfit look to deliver a far-improved showing in F1 2024.