Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner says the side’s collaboration with Ferrari is not to blame for its continuous struggles throughout the 2023 Formula 1 season.
After an encouraging beginning to the current regulation cycle last season, Haas’ prospects in 2023 have been stymied by a VF-23 car that excessively degrades its tyres, resulting in the team languishing eighth in the standings with only 11 points.
Since entering F1 in 2016 Haas has shared a close technical alliance with Ferrari, with the pair both adopting the ‘bathtub’ style sidepod concept since the start of this ruleset.
But amid a troubling year, Ferrari elected to move towards the downwash solution utilised to devastating effect by Red Bull midway through the 2023 campaign.
With many others also following the design route of Red Bull’s RB19, Haas has been left as the only remaining team yet to replicate Red Bull’s sidepod configuration – but Steiner has confirmed his side in the process of introducing a version of that concept.
“The concept of the car will change, going in that direction, you know you’re limited with the chassis and a few other things, but we’re trying to go to that common downwash shape like everybody else has got,” Steiner revealed ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix.
Steiner adds that Haas has been evaluating a philosophy change since “before the summer break”, declaring that the team discovered there was no more development scope with its current car concept.
“That was our biggest problem with the concept we have now: we couldn’t find any performance any more, we developed the whole year and there was nothing there anymore and at some stage you need to decide ‘we need to do something different here’, we cannot keep banging our head against the wall,” he explained.
“You look at the other cars and they keep on finding… McLaren changed the system like this and they find something, at some stage you need to say, hey, we need to change concept, we need to face reality.”
While Steiner asserts that Haas has plenty of budget remaining to add updates, the realisation its current direction would not yield a substantial lap time improvement meant the team has opted to invest its remaining resources in the concept switch set to arrive in Austin next month.
He added: “The plan was to have more upgrades with the concept we have now, but because we didn’t find performance, we didn’t introduce… or we did not introduce upgrades this year because we didn’t want to make them, there was no performance, there was no point making car parts if the car doesn’t go faster, so because we haven’t spent money we can now spend it on this big upgrade.”
However, Steiner has denied that Haas’ close relationship with Ferrari is primarily responsible for its competitive regression over the course of this year.
When questioned on the restrictions imposed by sharing the core architecture of Ferrari’s own car creation, he responded: “On that stuff, we decide the radiators and stuff like this, we cannot change them now, just haven’t got time to change radiators, your chassis, you can change, but it wouldn’t work out, but I don’t think it’s down to Ferrari – their electronic boxes are there, but I wouldn’t blame Ferrari for that one.
“It’s like some of the stuff obviously we need to go close to them, we could have put it somewhere else if we wanted, but we put it very similar, that concept we are running now asked for the side impact structure to be where it is so that’s why it is where it is.”
Looking ahead to this weekend’s race in Singapore, Steiner suspects the track changes will aid Haas’ pursuit of ending its five-race barren run without a points finish.
The snaking sequence of corners between Turns 16-19 has been replaced by a single straight this year, thus alleviating the pressure on the tyres at the end of the lap.
Steiner, though, admits that Haas’ issues with preserving the life of the rubber through the course of a race distance are unlikely to improve with its current car.
“I think a little bit more will help us is they changed the track in the last sector, everybody’s struggling here in the last sector as it was so demanding in the rear tyres, but for sure in the race we will be struggling, we anticipate that,” he conceded.
“I think it’s a 2-stop for everybody so that helps a little bit, but always we try the best we can do, you can never give up, but also just hoping doesn’t help, you need to do the best out of the can you can and that’s what we’re doing.”