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Haas F1 From Underdogs to Midfield Contenders

Haas F1: From Underdogs to Midfield Contenders

05/03/2024

Defying expectations, Haas F1 has shown remarkable progress at the season’s start, with both drivers performing beyond predictions.

Haas F1 has had a more positive season start than expected. The team had braced itself to be firmly at the back of the grid, yet Nico Hülkenberg made it to Q3, followed by Kevin Magnussen narrowly missing out on points during the race.

“Had anyone told me before this year’s car rolled out that we’d be contending for points in the first race, I wouldn’t have believed them,” said the new director, Ayao Komatsu.

“I’m aware of how much we’ve advanced since beginning the design of the VF-24, but also that we got a late start. We had a two-month pause for the Austin update. So, that was time lost, and we were behind.”

“But I assumed that given the same amount of time, the development pace of the others would be at least as good as ours. After all, we are the smallest team. That was my assumption.”

“Then, I noticed something a bit different during the tests, but I didn’t want to believe it. Then it was confirmed during the EL2. But again, it was all about the race. Our aim was to get both cars into Q2, which we did.”

“And Nico did what Nico does best in Q2. He put in an extraordinary lap, found himself in Q3 again, but we didn’t use new tires because we needed them for the race. Unfortunately, his start wasn’t great, and his race ended at turn 1.”

“However, as you can see from Kevin’s race, we’re in the mix in the midfield. It’s just that the margins are so small. Everything has to be perfect, which wasn’t the case in Bahrain for us to score points. But yes, it’s very positive.”

Haas “Can Compete” Against Rivals

The surprise at Haas is even more positive given that the Sakhir circuit was not expected to suit the VF-23. Komatsu is convinced that his team’s situation is much better than it was a year ago.

“For me, this circuit highlights that weakness, so I was quite happy. Okay, the track temperature wasn’t as high as during a normal race in Bahrain. But still, at midday during testing, and then in FP1 and FP3, you could see the weaknesses.”

“So, I think all of this is relevant. Of course, if you take a different circuit, more average, circuits with high-speed corners like Suzuka, it’s different. I’m sure we’ll struggle more.”

“And then in Jeddah, there will be faster corners and also less downforce. It will be another challenge. But if I compare our situation to that of our competitors 12 months ago, we are much more in the mix. We can compete. So, that’s very positive.

“A Better Job” than the Competition

According to Komatsu, it was unimaginable to hope that Haas could compete against RB F1, Stake, Williams, and Alpine, as was the case this weekend: “Let’s just say that before the Bahrain test, I did not expect this.”

“Honestly, as I’ve said, none of them are fools, right? These teams are all bigger than us. And we started late. I know we stopped for two months.”

“So how could I expect us to beat anyone? But luckily, it seems that we have done a better job than some other teams. But I can’t presume that. To me, it’s almost a disrespect to the others.”

The Japanese engineer assures that the team is refining its future developments: “I expected our car to be at the back of the grid in Bahrain, which means you really have to develop aggressively. So, we can’t wait to have driven the car.”

“All the things that are being prepared are assuming our winter development is in the right direction, so we just have to continue on this path and make the car more competitive.”

“Now that we have driven the car, we understand a bit better, and so we’re going to change some directions. But this won’t happen, let’s say, at the very start of the season.”

Haas F1: From Underdogs to Midfield Contenders. Haas F1: From Underdogs to Midfield Contenders

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