Nico Hulkenberg sends brutal message as Haas sink to rock bottom

Michelle Foster
Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg puts in the laps at the Circuit of the Americas.

Nico Hulkenberg in the revised Haas VF-23.

Nico Hulkenberg bluntly told Haas “at this rate, you can’t compete in F1” after the team fell to last in the standings as they near the end of a season in which the team didn’t develop the car until Austin.

Realising early on in the championship they would not make gains with the VF-23 concept as it was, Haas made the call to design and build a B-spec car.

While Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen waited for that to arrive, Haas went nine Grands Prix without a top ten result, that only broken by the German’s P6 in the Austrian Sprint.

Nico Hulkenberg: At this rate, you can’t compete in F1

As such one race prior to the introduction of the B-spec car Haas fell to ninth in the Constructors’ standings as Alfa Romeo surged four points ahead.

Two races later they dropped to the bottom of the table, this time AlphaTauri making gains with back-to-back points-scoring races.

Hulkenberg says it was to be expected given Haas’ lack of development throughout the season.

“It’s inevitable,” he said. “We’re paying a price for not bringing upgrades, for not finding performance.

“Hopefully it’s a wake-up call for everyone in the factory.”

He added: “At this rate, you can’t compete in F1.”

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Although Haas did put the heavily revised car on the grid at the United States Grand Prix, the B-spec drawing inspiration from Red Bull’s downwash concept, neither driver has scored a point in the two races since.

Hulkenberg had a strong opening stint in Mexico but Haas’ as yet unresolved tyre issues meant he fell to 13th while Magnussen crashed out when his suspension failed.

Team boss Guenther Steiner has revealed the cause of that was the driver’s brakes overheating and damaging the suspension.

“We need to be more careful when it gets there, to brake more with the engine, brake-by-wire, or just to lift and coast. That’s what we can do,” Steiner told Motorsport.com.

“It’s little bit unfortunate, because it [the temperature] goes up, the brake doesn’t fail, the sensors go out because of the heat, and then nobody knows anymore what is happening, and then the suspension was broken.

“Once it got going, it was very quick, that was the reason. The brake was obviously a little bit hot, all of a sudden, all the sensors are gone. And then the suspension snaps.”

That led to Magnussen spearing to the left and hitting the wall hard, his VF-23 catching fire as he walked away from the car.

His chassis, while seeming to sustain a great deal of rear-end damage, has already been repaired.

“Yes, it’s already finished,” he said. “They just had to change one sidepod inlet. A glued-in part, it’s new, but the chassis is fine.

“The mechanics are really well prepared for this, as long as you’ve got the spare parts. There was one part which is glued onto the car, the radiator inlet, they fixed it already on Sunday night, so the glue can dry.

“When the car got here, it was already glued on. This is what they do these days. These guys are very prepared, all the parts are already pre-fitted. So it’s not like that you have to fit things, all the tolerances are very good. So it was no issue.

“Today, once we were allowed to start the engines, both cars were ready to fire up. And nobody had to work late. This is a very well-oiled machine, F1 now.

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