[Hulkenberg: Williams “gone” for P7 unless Haas F1 finds some “magic”
Haas has yet to get on top of its 2023 car’s severe tyre woes, which have left it unable to replicate its often-reasonable qualifying pace over a whole race stint.
The team particularly struggles on hot and twisty circuits where Pirelli’s tyres are tested the most, with its disastrous performance in the Italian Grand Prix another new low.
Hulkenberg and tea-mate Kevin Magnussen were the only drivers to be lapped as they finished a distant 17th and 18th, with Hulkenberg lamenting “everyone was just driving through us, and we were not in the race.”
While Haas has been trialling solutions to mitigate its tyre overheating issues, it clearly hasn’t been able to roll out a fix yet. And in the meantime, it has paid the price in the constructors’ championship.
It shared seventh place with Williams before the start of the second part of the season, but since then Alex Albon nearly doubled the points tally for its resurgent rivals, while Haas hasn’t scored points since Austria.
Haas is now facing a 10-point gap to Williams while Alfa Romeo has closed to within a point, with Hulkenberg admitting Haas won’t be able to keep up with the former.
“To be honest, Williams, they look like they’re gone,” he conceded. “They and McLaren obviously made huge progress this year. And I don’t see how we can turn this around unless we find something really magic.
Nico Hulkenberg, Haas VF-23, Logan Sargeant, Williams FW45
Photo by: Jake Grant / Motorsport Images
“On the low-downforce package, once the tyre has gone through the fresh kind of tyre life, it’s just one direction and that’s backwards.
“We’re just eating the tyre, the balance is poor, we’re sliding a lot more than other cars. Can’t keep the pace up, using more tyre. So, it was one of the toughest and worst races of the season.”
While Magnussen has generally been struggling with the VF-23’s handling traits, Hulkenberg’s 12th place in Zandvoort showed some signs of improvement on its high downforce package.
But while the sun won’t be a factor in Singapore’s night race, the high temperatures might still bite Haas.
“Definitely high track temperatures and sun some doesn’t help our case” he added, hoping Zandvoort’s stronger pace will be more representative of the races to come.
“The pace there looked much more promising and looking back the characteristic and the feel of the car was much better than this weekend.
“[For the next races I am] cautiously optimistic, I think we should be in a better place. At least in a better place in the midfield, closer to being in a race.”