[Haas to become final F1 downwash convert amid Austin concept switch
The American-owned outfit has remained an outlier in sticking to the in-wash solution that technical partner Ferrari has begun the new regulations rules era with.
But with Ferrari having ditched the in-wash solution at the Spanish Grand Prix, and Mercedes having abandoned its zero pods from Monaco, Haas was left alone as the only squad not running the downwash concept.
That will now change from next month’s race in Austin, as a major upgrade is planned which will include an overhaul of its sidepods to adopt the downwash solution that Red Bull has put to good use.
The decision to change approach was made before the summer break and was prompted by the team feeling it had hit a performance ceiling with its current car.
Team principal Guenther Steiner said: “That was our biggest problem with the concept we have now, we couldn’t find any performance any more.
“We developed the whole year and there was nothing there. At some stage, you need to do something different, and we could not keep on banging our heads against the wall trying, while the other ones kept on finding gains.
“McLaren changed the system like this, and they found something at some stage. So, at some point, you need to change concept, and you need to face reality.”
Mechanics on the grid with Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-23
Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images
Haas’s failure to find improvements with its current concept meant the team had held back on spending any of its 2023 budget on manufacturing upgrades, which has left headroom to fund the changes planned for Austin.
Steiner added: “The plan was to have more upgrades with the concept we have got now. But because we didn’t find performance, we didn’t introduce upgrades this year.
“There’s no point to make car parts if the car doesn’t go faster, so because we haven’t spent that money, we can now spend it on this big upgrade.”
The downwash switch will have to work around some of the architectural limitation of the current VF-23 car, but Steiner feels that the squad will learn some important lessons ahead of a full-blown downwash solution for 2024.
“We weren’t sure if we should do it this year or not, but then next year we were going to go full that route,” explained Steiner.
“We had to say, let’s do something this year, so at least we learn as much as possible for next year on that concept. And maybe we learn something that you can then integrate into next year’s car as well out of the racetrack.”