Nico Hulkenberg’s worrying assessment of B-spec Haas with similar ‘problems’

Michelle Foster
Haas driver Nico Hulkenberg in the upgraded VF-23.

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Pinning his hopes on the B-spec VF-23, Nico Hulkenberg accepts getting it spot on was never a certainty but he’s worried the revised Haas has “similarities with the old package and problems”.

Realising earlier this year the VF-23 in its inception was a flawed concept, Haas stopped upgrading the car and instead focused on designing a B-spec car.

That car, which team boss Guenther Steiner stated drew heavily from the “Red Bull concept”, hit the track at the Circuit of The Americas on Friday with an impressive showing on the timesheet with Kevin Magnussen fifth and Hulkenberg P9.

Nico Hulkenberg: A lot of similarities with the old package and problems

But that’s where the joy ended.

The drivers fell to 14th and 16th in Friday’s qualifying while Saturday’s Shootout was even worse, Hulkenberg 16th and Magnussen one position further back.

Neither driver was able to recover to score points with Hulkenberg worried that the revised car carries many of the old spec car’s problems.

“The probability of hitting the nail right on the head is pretty low,” he said as per Sky F1. “And I think we need more time.

“There are positive signs here and there. But there are still a lot of similarities with the old package and problems, especially in the fast corners here.

“We have to try more, adapt the set-up to the new parts, and hope that we can squeeze out even more in the coming weeks.”

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Saturday’s troubles have left the Haas driver without much hope for Sunday’s Grand Prix where he will line up 16th on the grid with his team-mate Kevin Magnussen P14.

“We can understand it better so far, but we are in parc ferme, so we can’t change anything,” he lamented. “But of course, we will look at the tyres, the pace, and the different approaches.

“I think one difference this weekend is that we’re not using enough wings,” he added before speaking about “uncertainties regarding aerodynamics.

“We are by far the fastest on the straights, but unfortunately we are lacking in the corners, and of course that affects the tyres in the end. That’s not ideal and I think it will remain difficult tomorrow too.”

Hulkenberg’s comments come in the wake of Steiner’s alarming admission that the upgrade didn’t do what was expected.

“It didn’t go to plan today,” he said after the Sprint. “We’ve got more work to do but initially we’re not very happy with what’s happened, so we have to see how we tackle tomorrow.

“We found a few things and went in the wrong direction, but it’s difficult to jump to a conclusion after one practice, two qualifying sessions, and one short race.

“But at the moment, we have to find more as the upgrade’s not done what we expected.”

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