Last season’s Bahrain Grand Prix was magical for Haas, as returning driver Kevin Magnussen led the team to a P5 finish after Haas spent the whole of 2021 fighting at the back of the grid.
2023 teased similar fortunes as the returning Nico Hulkenberg made it all the way to Q3 on his Haas debut, dramatically knocking out McLaren’s Lando Norris along the way.
The race did not pan out how the team would have hoped however as early front wing damage for Hulkenburg forced the German to pit for repairs and eventually finish in fifteenth.
Kevin Magnussen finished in thirteenth to round of a fairly miserable start to the season for Haas but the VF-23 is clearly a car capable of battling in the midfield.
Realising the potential of the VF-23, Haas team principal Guenther Steiner has reflected on the Bahrain Grand Prix, hoping that his team can use what they learned to score a reasonable haul of points in Jeddah this weekend.
“It was quite challenging because we had pre-season testing and then there was very little time before the race,” he said.
“All in all, even if we had struggles in the race, qualifying was good. We got one car into Q3 and for Nico to come back after three years of not having a full-time drive, it was a very good result for the team. We could’ve done better than a tenth, but we were happy with it.
“In the race it didn’t start too well, for Nico it wasn’t an ideal start knocking off the front wing endplate and Kevin was the only one of the hard tyre to start which put him in difficulties.
“All in all though, I think the performance is there in the VF-23, we just need to get it permanently at all the races, so I’m really looking forward to those races.
“Jeddah is a little bit different in terms of layout compared to Bahrain buy everything that we learned in Bahrain will help us set up the car better for Saudi Arabia. Hopefully we get it in a good window and then we can extract the full potential of the VF-23, resulting in points.”
Having sacrificed so much in 2021 to focus on preparing for the new regulations, Haas will be pleased to see their decision paying off.
The American team are clearly capable of scoring points on a regular basis and will now begin to build to hopefully becoming sporadic podium contenders once again.