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2023 Performance Review: Haas

Written by Tatsbhita Reva, Edited by Vyas Ponnuri


Image Credits - Kym Illman/Getty Images

The 2023 F1 Season ended in November, and ever since, our Formula One writers have been hard at work, reviewing the drivers’ performances and rating them across a scale of ten. The first part of our season review touches upon the American F1 Team on the grid, Haas, who were glad to have seen the end of a torrid Formula One Season. 


Shortly after the end of the 2022 season, Haas revealed they would not be extending Mick Schumacher’s contract, and opted to replace the driver lineup with veteran Nico Hülkenberg. The two experienced drivers, Hülkenberg and Kevin Magnussen, were signed in hopes of delivering valuable points for the team. 


The trimmed-down pitwall that managed to save Haas $250,000 for their car development was another modification for the team, leaving only team principal Guenther Steiner, director of engineering Ayao Komatsu, and team manager Peter Crolla occupying each chair.


Although Bahrain Grand Prix as the first race of the season came to greet the two drivers with no points bagged, the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix proved progress: the Danish driver Magnussen finished 10th, scoring the team a point. 


The Miami Grand Prix also marks the team’s best qualifying position to date when Hülkenberg qualified fourth. The team did encounter pre-race setbacks this season, such as Magnussen’s malfunctioning power unit, which plagued Haas throughout the season, alongside the persistent issues with the car’s pace. 


Nevertheless, while often showing apparent progress, the team’s rocky start of the season continuously falls to a downgrade in terms of performance, compared to the 2022 season, when they placed eighth in Constructors’. 


After their biggest in-season upgrade did not fully exceed the expectations of the drivers, the team suffered a relatively worsening performance along the season. 


Ultimately, the team’s expectations of returning back to the midfield was considered a stretch, as they closed the season last in the Constructors’ with only 12 points — nine by Hülkenberg and three by Magnussen.


Rating - 3.4/10 (based on a cumulative rating)


Kevin Magnussen


Image Credits - Michael Potts/Getty Images

Strengths

Magnussen demonstrated some outstanding drives for Haas, consistently picking up a point over the course of three races. 


Despite being deemed unsatisfactory, the points received by Magnussen during the Saudi Arabian, Miami, and Singaporean Grands Prix aided the team in collectively bagging 12 points. 


His exceptional drive was evident throughout the noteworthy Miami Grand Prix, where Magnussen battled Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari three times. After Leclerc passed Magnussen, the Dane quickly regained the position. 


Although Leclerc eventually ended up overtaking Magnussen, the Dane managed to close the race with a point in hand. Magnussen’s robust style is the key to qualifying and racing at an equivalent level, regardless of the car or any tracks – and his ability to keep the car within reach of points keeps the team content. 


Weaknesses

Magnussen has been through a couple of slumps throughout his drives for Haas this season. 


At most times, his aggressive wheel-to-wheel driving is a risky gamble during races. He had to retire his car from the Australian Grand Prix after crashing on the last few remaining laps of the race, and followed by yet another crash during the Mexican Grand Prix, unharmed despite this time heavily damaging his car. 


On the streets of Monaco, Magnussen had to experience a similar fate, as he lost control of his Haas. Magnussen’s car also caught on fire due to engine failure, during qualifying the British Grand Prix. 


The nadir for Magnussen’s 2023 season would have been his struggles with the upgraded VF-23, as the updated car simply did not suit him, as his driving style worked against him with the specific limitations of the car.


Cumulative Rating - 3.95/10


Best Race: Miami GP; Magnussen started off Qualifying Session with a magnificent drive that got him P4 grid spot, showed superb fighting spirit in a battle with Leclerc’s Ferrari, and closed the race scoring a point for placing tenth. 


Nico Hülkenberg


Image Credits - Michael Potts/Getty Images

Strengths

After bidding the sport goodbye in 2019, Hülkenberg’s return as an experienced driver was predicted to settle things down with Haas. 


Capable of making the most out of a qualifying car, Hülkenberg is undoubtedly a gifted and fantastic driver. Probably his best race for the 2023 season, the German driver showed promise, as he achieved a satisfying P7 finish during the Australian Grand Prix, handing the team 6 points. 


The Australian Grand Prix saw three red flags: The first for a crash involving Alex Albon's Williams, the second for Magnussen hitting the wall with his right rear tyre, and the third for the first-corner incidents that pushed Hülkenberg up to fourth place. 


As Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari was hit with a five-second penalty for clashing with Fernando Alonso’s Aston Martin, finishing P3 was within the grasp of the German driver. 


However, upon the lengthy delay, the FIA’s decision on resuming the race from the previous start ripped Hülkenberg’s chances of achieving a podium in Melbourne. 


Hülkenberg also impressed a vast majority during the wet qualifying of the Canadian Grand Prix as he qualified second, although the three-place grid penalty forced him to start fifth, and he eventually ended the race outside the points. 


Weaknesses

Hülkenberg’s performance worsened as his finishes were far from the reach of points. The German’s mishaps that led to his two DNFs this season revolved around the unfortunate power unit issue within his car. 


Haas then revealed that Hülkenberg would return to the car’s original specification for the Las Vegas Grand Prix, used early in the season, as it suited him better compared to the updated VF-23, despite retiring by Lap 45. 


What is to notice from Hülkenberg this season is the lack of race pace, and how the German driver is also challenged by his car’s pace, alongside a significant tyre degradation. Seeing rather impressive drives this season, Hülkenberg definitely showed promise for the upcoming 2024 season. 


Cumulative Rating - 6.1/10


Best Race: Australian GP; Finished an impressive seventh, despite the messy race restart and post-chequered flag issue.


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