TEAM PREVIEW: Everything you need to know about Haas as they enter a new era in 2024
This last time last year we were asking whether Haas could build on their P8 finish in the 2022 constructors’ standings – and the fact they go into 2024 with a new Team Principal might signal how that went. Quite simply, it was a struggle for the American team in 2023 as they propped up the constructor’s standings with just 12 points. Here’s everything you need to know about the squad as they hope for improved fortunes…
Drivers for 2024
Kevin Magnussen #20: 1 podium, 1 pole position, 186 points, 163 starts
Nico Hulkenberg #27: 1 pole position, 530 points, 203 starts
In terms of driver pairings, you won’t find many more experienced than Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg. You’re also unlikely to find a pair who are more appreciative of being in Formula 1, having spent time away from the sport.
Magnussen made a shock return to F1 with the team in 2022, having raced for them from 2017-2020 before being dropped for 2021, but is now looking forward to a seventh season at Haas. Before that, Magnussen had turned out for McLaren and Renault.
Hulkenberg, meanwhile, had three seasons without a permanent seat from 2020-22 before arriving at Haas for 2023. The German had previously raced for the likes of Williams, Force India and Renault, and also made two super-sub appearances for Racing Point in 2020 and two for Aston Martin in 2022.
But Haas have stuck with the pair for a reason – both are seasoned F1 performers, with Hulkenberg celebrating his 200th F1 start at the 2023 Mexico City Grand Prix.
In short, 2023 was a struggle for Haas. They finished last in the constructors’ standings – with just 12 points – and that’s what ultimately culminated in long-time Team Principal Guenther Steiner departing in January.
In an exclusive interview with F1.com team owner Gene Haas explained that decision “came down to performance.” He added: “Here we are in our eighth year, over 160 races – we have never had a podium. The last couple of years, we’ve been 10th or ninth.”
Sundays were where the problems chiefly lay for Haas. Their one-lap pace meant they were relatively competitive on a Saturday but tyre degradation issues would seem them slip down the order on race day.
There were some highlights along the way though, Hulkenberg in particular impressive at various stages. He was the man who sealed the team's best finish in 2023 – a P7 in Australia – and was responsible for collecting nine of the 12 points Haas scored.
The German was also very impressive in qualifying, making it into Q3 on eight occasions. In Canada, he even qualified in second behind Max Verstappen, although a subsequent three-place grid drop for a red flag infringement knocked him back down the order.
Magnussen’s 2023 was far more challenging than his 2022 comeback year, with just three points scored. A late overtake on Yuki Tsunoda to seal P10 in Saudi Arabia does deserve a special mention though.
Haas are the most recent all-new F1 entry after Gene Haas purchased the factory of Banbury-based Marussia F1 to enter the sport in 2016. Their strong links with Ferrari have helped with their operation, and in keeping costs down.
Their first two seasons brought solid P8 finishes in the constructors’ before a very credible fifth-placed finish came about in 2018. That, however, is as good as it’s ever been results-wise – a slump to ninth following in the next two seasons, while they didn’t even score a single point in 2021.
In 2022 they recovered to P8 – scoring 37 points along the way – before they were again propping up the table last year.
What will be a major change going forward is that the popular, charismatic Steiner is gone, with the upcoming campaign set to be the first for Haas without him.
Unsurprisingly, there was nothing in 2023 that was able to challenge in this category for Haas, so we have to dig a bit deeper into the past few seasons.
Magnussen’s shock pole at the 2022 Sao Paulo Grand Prix is a very worthy shout but you can’t look past Haas’s 2018 campaign – fifth place really was a great achievement.
The Dane was driving for the team then too, alongside Romain Grosjean, and with Haas’s quick car at their disposal they managed to score 93 points. That is comfortably the team’s best finish to date in the constructors’.
One key goal for 2024
While simply improving will obviously be the aim for Haas, really their goal for 2024 should be to move on from Steiner. Now it’s the turn of the Ayao Komatsu era, the team’s previous Director of Engineering the man singled out for promotion to replace a larger-than-life character.
Indeed, the Japanese engineer has already insisted he’s “not trying to be Guenther Steiner” – for this new chapter to work he has to do things his own way, and his engineering background is sure to be a key part of that. He also knows the team incredibly well, having been with them since 2016 and rising through several roles.
But change is going to be a long process, and Komatsu is realistic about the short-term prospects. “Out of the gates in Bahrain, I still think we’re going to be towards the back of the grid, if not last,” he conceded.
Ultimately Haas’s success in 2024 will not be judged in Bahrain. It will be judged by how they finish up the year relative to where they started.