Haas F1 car no longer plagued by “nasty” characteristics

Haas F1 car no longer plagued by “nasty” characteristics

The American-owned outfit finished bottom of the constructors’ championship in 2023 after Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg found themselves struggling for pace in races thanks to tyre issues.

Well aware of how much the problem held it back, Haas headed into F1’s pre-season test in Bahrain last week with a complete focus on race-distance runs to try to get to the bottom of what was going wrong.

Having felt encouraged by the answers it got from its new VF-24, Haas boss Ayao Komatsu feels that Magnussen and Hulkenberg can enjoy much greater consistency in the season ahead.

“Last year’s car was inconsistent, it was quite nasty,” said Komatsu. “Depending on the conditions – tyre condition, wind condition or track temperature – the car really wasn’t behaving in a predictable manner.

“Whereas this year’s car is behaving in a predictable manner. It’s consistent. Yes, we are still lacking downforce, especially in high-speed and sort of balancing medium/low-speed characteristics, but I don’t think it’s got nasty characteristics.”

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Komatsu believes that its efforts have paid off in helping deliver what he considers an “acceptable” baseline to start to the season with, prior to upgrades arriving at some point in the early phase of the campaign.

And the mindset of drilling down in setting up the car for race pace, rather than a good grid slot, is something that Komatsu says will be maintained for the rest of the season.

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-24

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-24

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

“You have got to decide what the biggest problem is you want to solve,” he said. “There is no point qualifying in P7 and going backwards on Sunday. I’d rather qualify P14 but have a car we can race and get up to the top 10. That’s our objective.

“I’m not going to suddenly turn up next weekend here and then start optimizing a car for qualifying, no.”

While this approach means Haas may not have as many enjoyable Saturdays in 2024, he thinks that ultimately it will deliver a better platform for the team.

“Everybody knows our problem and how frustrating that is, right?” he said. “Look at Abu Dhabi, last race of the season, essentially with the launch car. We can qualify P8, which is fantastic, but all of us knew, Saturday night, we can’t do anything on Sunday.

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“We lived through that last year. In that sense, it’s not difficult to convince everyone.

“But at the same time, of course, everyone wants to find out how quick is our car on one-lap pace. But the message had to be clear.

“If there’s one thing we needed to come out from this test, it was learning about tyre management, and our long-run pace. So once you got the objective, that’s what we’re doing. Everything else is noise.”

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