Nico Hulkenberg, Haas, Spa-Francorchamps, 2023

Haas drivers fear losing battle for seventh after “grim weekend” in Spa

2023 Belgian Grand Prix

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Haas will be at risk of losing the battle for seventh place in the constructors championship if they don’t improve their car, their drivers fear.

The team lies eighth in the standings on 11 points, tied on points with seventh-placed Williams but behind them based on the count-back of their best results. Alexander Albon’s eighth place at the British Grand Prix breaks the tie between them.

Kevin Magnussen finished behind Albon in last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps in 15th place, while team mate Nico Hulkenberg was the final driver running in 18th at the finish.

The team have struggled with tyre wear during races throughout the opening half of the season, regularly finishing lower than they qualify. Magnussen is hopeful that the team will be able to address that weakness in the second half of the season.

“I actually think [Spa] was a slightly better, slightly stronger race than we’ve had recently, but still nothing to show for it, of course,” Magnussen told media including RaceFans.

“I think degradation is still the main issue for us. At the beginning of stints we seem to be hanging on to the guys around the top 10. Then we go slower and slower and they just keep going faster. I think that’s the main differentiator for us and for our car. So hopefully we can take a nice little break here now and come back and fix that because that’s clearly what we need to improve.”

Team mate Hulkenberg described the team’s performance at Spa as a “pretty grim weekend for us.” He said Haas would “write it off, reset, regroup and come back after the summer break hopefully a bit stronger.”

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Haas were the only one of the 10 teams not to bring any upgrades or new parts to their cars in Belgium last weekend. Hulkenberg says the team need to continue working on their car for the second half of the season.

“What we really need is some upgrades, some real performance to help ourselves – that’s what we need,” he said.

“Obviously, [Spa] exposes the weaknesses of our car very much. It’s why we’ve not been competitive on any session on any lap really, I feel. So a lot of work to do.”

Hulkenberg said that while Haas understand the cause behind why they suffer more with tyre wear than other teams, it is a “complex” issue that will not be simple to solve.

“I think we can still improve the situation this year. To what extent that’s ‘TBC’ – it’s down to us and we have to prove it. But it’s a longer-term thing for sure.”

Magnussen is anxious for Haas to find more speed from their car from the second half of the season if they are to achieve their target of taking seventh place back from Williams.

“I think what we need is to use all the knowledge and data we’ve gained over the first half and come up with something better,” Magnussen said. “Because we need something better to get this P7 in the constructors [championship] otherwise we’re going to lose that and we don’t want to do that.”

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2023 Belgian Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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13 comments on “Haas drivers fear losing battle for seventh after “grim weekend” in Spa”

  1. Every year is the same. Race pace that goes nowhere, lack of updates… for the first time they have a pair of realiable-ish drivers in their line up but the results are the same (or worse).

    This is the only team on the grid you don’t hear any news about hiring someone good, no signs that it really wants to improve… I really struggle to understand Haas involvement in the series…

    1. Just the way they go racing is a joke. Haas is just a glorified outsourcing unit. They should stick to manufacturing or maybe pivot to IT outsourcing. You can’t borrow all the parts from the 3rd best team on the grid, use an external car designer, hire mediocre drivers, a comical principal, and then expect to be a competitive outfit.

      I would much rather see Andretti on the grid than this clown show outfit.

    2. I would think it’s pretty clear the team is just there to be sold one day and make Haas a fortune.

      1. @slowmo yet they are not selling to anyone, or at least there aren’t even rumours about it. You can only sell what you’ve got and right now Haas only has it’s entry, it’s not a team you build up from… Now F1 is indeed considering new entries, their price isn’t going to be as high as it could’ve been.

      2. The fortune was already earned when they made a contract/partnership with Ferrari, allowing them to keep staff in a job at Haas and add some political influence. Meanwhile Haas got a mega contract so supply Ferrari with CNC machinery and tooling, while getting the name out there and owning a hot property/license.

    3. As an American I want to root for Haas so much. I’ve got Haas hats, shirts, etc. and represent at every race I attend.
      However, Gene Haas seems to have no interest whatsoever in trying to be competitive and no passion for racing other than to have his name on the car for advertising. He seems only interested in running the team on the bare minimum budget as a business venture.

      I say kick Haas out and let Andretti in.

  2. I’m pretty much convinced that the issues is inherent in how they have integrated the Ferrari rear end, but given that Haas does not really have any own engineering who can work on that, since they buy stuff from Ferrari, it really goes nowhere.

    And it seems the team really lacks the skill to analyse and build on their strenghts, solve their weaknesses with the current model of operating. They are able to build a solid-ish car over the winter, but then just seem to be waiting for the next winter and slowly (or faster, also dependent on where they start) they just fall down the order and we only get Steiner being upset with the drivers while the issue is the team and how it works.

  3. I’ve never seen a less ambitious project. True, they don’t go bankrupt at least, like many did, but that’s very easy in current F1 (and they were preparing to abandon ship before “Drive to survive” happened). They don’t care about car development, they barely care about having capable drivers, they don’t care about management nor they bring good people in. The owner doesn’t bother to show up more than maybe once a year, he prefers phone calls. His main guy is a Netflix starlet. We have Haas in F1, yet they try to prevent serious new teams from entering. That’s the sad fact. For years they have the same problem with their cars, even with different rule sets, which just proves that they are clueless. Besides, they can’t do much when they just outsource everything, which is itself against F1 spirit. I don’t think they even design anything, someone in Ferrari probably “forgets” sketches somewhere where Steiner can find them, in some bar in Italy.

  4. Coventry Climax
    7th August 2023, 13:00

    Just allow new teams in when they want to give it a go. And get some sort of pre-qualification back to limit the grid.It will then sort itself out automatically.

    Or, if they stick with F1 being the closed up incestuous ballotage system it is now, then maybe for F2 and F3 really to make up the ladder to F1, the way the FIA envisages, they should start to implement some sort of well thought out degradation/promotion plan.
    This is not it, but for example promotion into F1 when -say- 20 credits are earned in F2, gathered by means of finishing at the top for a couple of years. And loose credits every season you end last. Between F3 and F2 same thing. That way, we won’t have teams being dead last for so many years.
    I know, it’s tricky, because I wouldn’t have wanted to loose, for example, Williams. On the other hand, it may give more meaning to the F2 and F3 championships, in the sense that they are not just and only driver promotion platforms, but a constructor platforms as well.

  5. “I think what we need is to use all the knowledge and data we’ve gained over the first half and come up with something better,” Magnussen said.

    Gee, ya think?

    1. Coventry Climax
      7th August 2023, 14:29

      I think (gee!) that he’s fully aware of the open door of what he’s saying. He’s just not allowed or willing to complain to his team directly.

      1. I understand that and sympathize with Magnussen’s dilemma; I was commenting on the obviousness of his statement, which is what any and all teams must do to improve……

        1. Coventry Climax
          7th August 2023, 17:21

          must do to improve….

          but Haas apparently needs to be reminded of, and in a way such that he does not lose his seat.

          Ofcourse I get it why you commented on it as being so utterly plain obvious. That’s exactly why -usually- there must also be something else behind it.

Comments are closed.