After the first practice session of the 2023 Japanese Grand Prix, Haas team’s trackside engineer, Ayao Komatsu, provided insights into the intricacies of this year’s VF-23 and the anticipated Austin upgrade package. The planned enhancements aim at a better understanding of the car’s performance before launching next year’s version.
The current Haas F1 car displays its weaknesses during extended race stints, which can be masked during short qualifying runs with new tires.
The forthcoming upgrade for the Austin GP, while not promising significant speed improvements, introduces a different concept to facilitate learning and gain a better grasp of the car’s characteristics before the 2024 season.
The Austin upgrade package isn’t classified as a ‘B-Spec’ car but incorporates major changes such as bodywork modifications, sidepod inlet, and an altered floor, while retaining the existing front and rear wings.
Elaborating on the challenges of this year’s car, Ayao Komatsu answered questions regarding the challenge of building upon their car so far this season:
“When you’ve got brand new tyres, extra grip, you can mask lots of weaknesses of the car, whereas when you do a long run in a race stint, those little weaknesses you can mask in qualifying, those get completely exposed – and it’s cumulative.
So the characteristic you can survive for one lap or three laps, or five laps becomes very apparent, and that’s the weakness.
“Why is it difficult? Because I think the concept of the car we’ve got, we’ve been trying to develop it, trying to make it better but we haven’t been really finding the solution. So yeah, that’s why it’s been quite difficult.”
Discussing the much-anticipated upgrade for the Austin Grand Prix, Komatsu revealed:
“Austin, it’s a huge push from the factory to get there. It’s quite a big update package, but in terms of putting on outright pace, it’s not that really, if you like. It’s more we’re doing it, and it’s a different concept, so we learn as much as possible as well.
“So to do that learning in this year ahead of launching next year’s car is quite big. So, I cannot say for certain in terms of out-right quali performance or race pace performance that we’re going to go X-amount quicker but, in terms of learning, and having different characteristics of the car, I think we have done quite a lot.
“So, it is very important that we do this.”
Finally, when inquired about the extent of the car’s alterations, Komatsu clarified:
“I think, officially, we’re not really expressing it as a B-Spec car. It’s a bodywork change, sidepod inlet, floor, so it’s pretty extensive. We’re not doing front wing or rear wing but the aero characteristics are very different to what we’ve got here.”