Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner revealed that his team will be running two different specs of their VF-23 in Las Vegas, the pre-Austin and the post-Austin car.
Haas introduced a major upgrade package for their VF-23 at the United States Grand Prix in Austin, having refrained from do so during the 2023 Formula 1 season despite struggling to extract performance from their car.
That meant they had enough cash to spare – given the cost cap – and chose to throw it at a major upgrade towards the end of the season using the final races to understand it and prepare for 2024.
Thus Nico Hulkenberg will have the older-spec car while Kevin Magnussen opted to stick with the upgraded VF-23 for this weekend’s F1 race in Las Vegas.
Speaking in Haas‘ preview of the race in Las Vegas, Steiner explained the team’s decision, he said: “The main drive behind this was Nico feels that for him the old spec suits him better, and Kevin is the opposite.
“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,” the Italian maintained.
Steiner also addressed the VF-23’s chronic tyre degradation issues in light of the extremely low temperatures forecasted for the Las Vegas Grand Prix, which could teams racing in ambient temperatures as low as five degrees Celsius.
Tyre degradation will not be worse
“The low temperatures are a challenge,” he said, “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.
“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,” he explained.
Magnussen also commented on the forecasted low temperatures, he said: “If it’s going to be that cold in the night, then getting the tyres up to temperature is going to be very difficult.
“We could see some spectacle – it’s going to be all about getting temperature in the tires. Downforce helps with that, so let’s see how we go,” the Dane added.
As for Hulkenberg, he added: “For a race weekend, it is unique to be running in such low temperatures, so we’ll have to see how easy it is to warm up our tyres.”
Haas head to this weekend’s F1 race in Las Vegas last in the 2023 F1 Constructors’ Standings with 12 points and four points behind ninth-placed Alfa Romeo.
Big Question: What does Haas’ decision to run two different specs of their VF-23 tell you?