END OF YEAR REPORT: Haas left searching for answers after finishing bottom of the pile in 2023
The 2023 season was a tough one for Haas. While their one lap pace meant they were competitive on a Saturday, their lack of performance on a Sunday often left them in trouble in the race, and they finished the year at the bottom of the constructors’ standings for the second time in three seasons. Here is their end of year report...
Nico Hulkenberg – 7th in Australia
Nico Hulkenberg returned to the grid this year after three seasons on the sidelines and impressed, with his most eye-catching of performances coming early on in the campaign when he finished seventh in Australia – the third race of the year.
Unfortunately for the American team that was the best he and they could do in 2023, as Hulkenberg did not get back into the points at any race for the rest of the season – although he did score points in the Austrian Sprint where he placed sixth.
Hulkenberg 15 – 7 Magnussen
Qualifying is where Haas’ VF-23 was at its most effective and Hulkenberg frequently got more out of it than Magnussen. The German was incredibly impressive over one lap and managed to make it into Q3 on eight occasions.
His best performance came in Montreal where he qualified in second place behind world champion Max Verstappen – although a subsequent three-place grid drop for a red flag infringement knocked him back down the order.
Statistically, the German was the 12th best qualifier on the grid, while Kevin Magnussen was 19th. The Dane only made it into Q3 three times this year, with his best outing coming in Miami, where he lined up fourth.
Hulkenberg 13 – 9 Magnussen
As previously mentioned, Haas struggled a lot more over the longer stints with tyre degradation proving to be a huge problem throughout the year. And in the head-to-head, Hulkenberg was the lead car across the line more often than not compared to his team mate.
Hulkenberg’s seventh place in Australia was not only his and the team’s best finish of the season, but it also turned out to be his only foray into the top-10 the entire year – with his 11th place in Austin the closest he got for the rest of the season.
Magnussen, on the other hand, had more trips into the points as he finished in 10th place on three occasions – in Saudi Arabia, Miami, and Singapore – meaning he ended the season with three points.
Points are the greatest currency in Formula 1 so Hulkenberg’s seventh place in Australia would have to be Haas' best moment this season. But the joys in the garage when he went second in Montreal – before the penalty – make that one of the team's highlights in 2023.
A special mention must go to Magnussen’s fourth place qualifying in Miami, as well as his late overtake on Yuki Tsunoda to finish in P10 in Saudi Arabia.
It was a trying season for Haas so they have a fair few of these moments to choose from, but the Italian Grand Prix must be at the top of the list with Hulkenberg crossing the line in 17th closely followed by Magnussen in 18th.
What made this bad was that things looked promising for them, with both drivers in the top-10 at the end of FP3. Qualifying then proved difficult with Hulkenberg in 13th while Magnussen was knocked out of Q1 after setting the 19th quickest time.
Things looked promising for the German when he made a fast start and was running in the top-10 but just like Magnussen, he ran into problems with the tyres which saw his pace drop off, causing them to fall back down the order.
Speaking to the media afterwards, the Dane called it the “worst race ever,” with Hulkenberg agreeing with his team mate’s assessment of events.
The first point of priority for Haas has to be sorting out the tyre degradation issues that affect them on a Sunday and have left their drivers unable to make their good qualifying positions count in the race.
To their credit, those issues did improve slightly as the season wore on but then both Magnussen and Hulkenberg questioned the lack of pace in their cars. They scored just one point in the second half of the year and finished at the bottom of the standings.
That is not a result that will please them and with the midfield battle proving a tight affair, Haas must do all they can to build a race car that is easy for their experienced pair to drive and one that can consistently see them battle for the points.