Nico Hulkenberg didn’t mince words when addressing his Haas team after a challenging finale at Abu Dhabi, wrapping up the 2023 Formula 1 season. Haas found themselves firmly rooted at the bottom of the Constructors’ Championship, a far cry from their aspirations, amassing a mere 12 points throughout the season.
The VF-23 F1 cars fielded by Haas faced formidable adversaries throughout the season, grappling with two primary issues – tire degradation and a deficiency in upgrades. While a significant upgrade package was unveiled on American soil, Hulkenberg chose to stick with the older specification in Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi. In contrast, his teammate Kevin Magnussen opted for the newer spec.
Nevertheless, the curtain fell on the season with the bitter realization that these upgrades failed to deliver the expected performance boost. At the Yas Marina Circuit, Haas encountered challenges mirroring their season-long struggles. Hulkenberg put up a commendable performance during qualifying, securing an eighth-place starting position. However, as the race unfolded, the car’s heightened tire wear gradually relegated him to 15th place, while Magnussen faced an even more disheartening outcome, finishing in last place, in the 20th position. It’s worth noting that both cars featured only minor discrepancies in their specifications.
Addressing the media, Hulkenberg had this to say:
“I don’t think there is a huge difference between them, minor differences.
“Last weekend, I felt actually the new package had an edge over the old package on a low downforce configuration. This weekend I felt quite okay, Kevin didn’t feel so happy.
“They are so similar, but that’s in itself obviously not good enough. An update is supposed to be better and fix some of your issues and unfortunately, that didn’t happen.”
When queried about any specific changes required over the winter break, the Haas driver appended:
“I don’t know if it proved anything. We need to work hard because I want us to do better, we need to pick up our feet, do a better job.
“The signs were there early in the season, and we got away with it earlier in the season because other people also were struggling. Once they cleaned up and brought some real developments, that’s when we really started to pay the penalty.
“The second half of the season has been really tough, there was only an opportunity to score a point or two for me in Singapore, which we missed.
“Apart from that we just never had the pace to do it, even when there was a lot of cars dropping out we were just too far away from it.
“Of course that’s not great and that’s why we need to be better.”
Expanding on his thoughts, Hulkenberg conveyed a message to the factory that the new car lacked the expected speed, emphasizing the necessity for substantial improvements in preparation for the upcoming year. In an interview with Sky Sports Deutschland, he articulated:
“I have demonstrated that the new car is not faster and that is quite clearly a problem.
“It’s a message to our factory, to the engineers and mechanics.
“Next year we have to do things differently. That has been our problem this year. Our development was at a standstill and we have been brutally overtaken.”