Nico Hulkenberg, Haas, Interlagos, 2023

Hulkenberg switches back to old-spec Haas for Las Vegas Grand Prix

Formula 1

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Haas will run two separate configurations of their VF-23 in Las Vegas this weekend in an attempt to suit both drivers’ driving styles.

The team, who currently sit 10th and last in the constructors’ championship, introduced a major new upgrade at the United States Grand Prix at Austin last month which they also used for the two following races.

Now Haas have confirmed Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg will each run different specifications of their car in Las Vegas this weekend. Magnussen will stick with the updated VF-23 while Hulkenberg will return to the car’s original specification from earlier in the season.

Team principal Guenther Steiner said the decision was not to directly compare the two configurations but simply down to driver preference.

“The main drive behind this was Nico feels that for him the old spec suits him better, and Kevin is the opposite,” Steiner explained.

“We’ve opted to give them what they want, we have two races to go and nothing to lose, so we’ve tried to do what we can. We could discuss gathering data, but we’ve got enough data, it’s a decision based on what each driver likes more than anything else. It puts them in a comfortable position so that they’re as happy as they can be with the car they get.”

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Haas sit four points away from Alfa Romeo at the bottom of the standings. Heading to the new Las Vegas Strip Circuit, where track temperatures are expected to be at their lowest of the season, Steiner says he does not expect the tyre wear troubles that have plagued his team all season will be worse in Vegas than the last round in Brazil.

Las Vegas Strip circuit track map
Track data: Las Vegas Strip Circuit
“The low temperatures are a challenge, as everyone knows you need to keep the tyres higher than the minimum temperature, which is higher than five degrees, so we always need to keep them a bit warmer, but it depends also a lot on the asphalt,” Steiner explained.

“It’s a combination of temperature and roughness of asphalt, but I don’t think degradation can get much worse for us than in Brazil. On Thursday, during practice, we’ll get to know the surface, the track, the temperature and then we’ll know more.”

Steiner is eagerly anticipating the latest addition to the F1 calendar, which is F1’s third grand prix in the team’s home country of the United States this year.

“I think it’s fantastic to have three races in the States, especially as the American team,” he said. “Five or 10 years ago, who’d have thought that we’d have more than one race in the US, now we’ve got three and they’re all very different events – as they would be if we were racing in different continents, not just country.

“I think it’s good for Formula 1 and the American fans who are coming more to watch and support. The standout point for me is the difference between each race. You go to Austin, which is a more ‘traditional’ race with lots of hardcore fans, and then you go to Miami where it’s party central, and then let’s see what Vegas brings.”

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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...

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5 comments on “Hulkenberg switches back to old-spec Haas for Las Vegas Grand Prix”

  1. Well, look at this.
    Haas can do it, but Red Bull cant do the same for Perez because it would be too much trouble…

    1. If I were Red Bull, I sincerely doubt that I’d take suggestions from the like of Haas though.

  2. Haas are always running 2 different spec cars ….according to Nikita Mazepin! :-D

  3. Nico will still have his Haas handed to him.

    Can they (and Aston Martin) claim a refund on the budget cap if their upgrade doesn’t work?

    1. Lawrence is probably wondering the same about Lance.

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