Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner has suggested there will be no existence of a midfield group during the 2023 Formula 1 season.
The American outfit was one of several teams to utilise the introduction of a wholesale technical regulation change last year to move off the foot of the table.
Haas would score 37 points to end up eighth in the Constructors’ standings, amongst a hugely competitive quartet from sixth to ninth that was covered by only 20 points.
The top three teams remained even further ahead than before the rules reset, however, while Williams was usually resigned to bringing up the rear of the field most weekends.
But Steiner, who is leading Haas into its eighth season in the sport, is adamant the pack below the elite teams will close up even more throughout this year.
“I think there is no midfield anymore,” he claimed. “It’s the top teams and then the rest. I think that is my opinion, seeing it now.”
Along with team owner Gene Haas, Steiner elected to replace Mick Schumacher with his German compatriot Nico Hulkenberg to form an experienced line-up alongside Kevin Magnussen at Haas for 2023.
Hulkenberg, a starter of 181 grands prix, last competed in F1 on a full-time basis in 2019, making four deputy appearances for Team Silverstone in the period since.
Asked for his thoughts on Steiner’s remarks, Hulkenberg, a central figure of the midfield scene throughout the last decade, agreed with the view of his new team boss.
“I still think the midfield, and I’ve spent many years in the midfield, so I know what I’m talking about, it’s always been tight,” the Haas driver acknowledged.
“Small things make a difference that you’re either top end or bottom end, and a good day or bad day can have a huge impact on that. We just have to make sure we do our homework, develop our car efficiently, and race operations wise maximise what we have,” he added.
With only three days of testing allocated to the teams in 2023 – a decrease from six last year – the pecking order arguably might be more clouded going into the first race than in previous seasons.
But Steiner, speaking before the end of pre-season, expressed that he was confident by the end of testing a competitive order would have started to form.
“I would say by Saturday, we know pretty well. It will get a lot clearer,” he declared.
“The more testing, the more data you have to look at and the clearer the picture gets. I think three days will give you a good picture by Saturday night.”
Haas sustained a largely positive three days of testing in Bahrain, completing the fourth most laps (414) of any team on the grid and setting the sixth fastest time.
Unlike last year, when the team underwent a chaotic pre-season period, the Kannapolis-based team had a much smoother time preparing for the upcoming season.
Despite the turmoil emanating from the fallout involving the ending of relations with its ex-title partner Uralkali and its former driver Nikita Mazepin not long before the campaign got underway, the returning Magnussen went on to achieve a fifth-place finish with his comeback drive in Bahrain.
The Bahrain Grand Prix will again be the host venue for the opening round of the F1 World Championship, taking place this weekend, as Haas aims to build on its return to points scorings ways from last season.
Leave a Reply