February 28, 2024

Top qualifications, failed race: Haas has a tire problem

Nothing describes the state of the Haas team better than these two classifications. On Saturday, Nico Hulkenberg set the second fastest time in Q3 and ended up not being on the front row only because he received a penalty for speeding under a red flag. On Sunday, the same driver in the same car finished second to last in the fastest laps.

Hülkenberg finally crossed the finish line in 15th place. After just eleven laps, the qualifying star dropped out of the points. He did not approach her again. He was one of the first drivers to head to the pits to replace his medium tires with hard soles. From Hulkenberg's point of view, the lap is too early. If he had waited, the safety car would have given him a free stop like eight other drivers.

The Haas driver overtook seven times

This would not have brought the American team any points either. Kevin Magnussen tried Ferrari's waiting tactic. But this did not get the Dane any further. The tires of my American Ferrari collapsed again. So they quickly lost their positions on the track. Of the 16 overtaking maneuvers in the race, Haas drivers performed seven of them alone. In a duel their backs were against the wall.

The problem is not new. But it is very worrying because, for once, his Ferrari teammate managed to pass the race without any tire problems. And because hardly any other team complained about excessive tire wear. Montreal is one of the easiest exercises with its many slow angles when it comes to getting into shape. Only the rear tires suffer when the Senna-S loses traction and hairpins.

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Despite his great moment on Saturday, Hulkenberg had a bad feeling. That's why he wasn't so sad that he lost his place on the front row of the grid: “This is not our shoe size. Instead of burning my tires in a duel with people I can't beat anyway, I'd rather focus on our real opponents.”


© XBP

In the qualifying final, only Max Verstappen was faster than Hulkenberg. There weren't many opponents in the race who were slower.

The air around World Cup points is getting thinner

These are Alpine, Williams, McLaren, Alfa Romeo and Alfa Tauri. With the exception of AlphaTauri, everyone in this group was quicker on Sunday and competed for positions 7 to 13 in the group. Hulkenberg was 13 seconds behind. So much when every World Cup point is at stake. And the air is getting thinner and thinner for the new eighth World Cup. Alpha has one point more, Williams only one point less.

Magnussen calls for the problem to be resolved as quickly as possible: “We have a fast car for one lap, but we struggled with the tires again. At least more than the others. We have to maintain the pace from Saturday to Sunday.” In the race, the car becomes a competitor that he can't keep up with on Saturday. The Sauber C43 has exactly the opposite qualities. Weak in one round, strong in distance.

Nico Hulkenberg despaired: “The race was a one-way street in the wrong direction. We have a lot of work to do to make the car more consistent for Sunday.” “We know what to look for,” confirms team boss Guenther Steiner. “As soon as we get into traffic and behind other cars, the tire performance decreases. It will never come back. Now we have to rack our brains.” “We are looking for solutions because we cannot hide behind good qualifying results forever.”


© Motorsport Pictures

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The Haas suffers from traffic much more than other cars. This is on the tires.

Does Ferrari have the solution?

At least big brother Ferrari has found a solution for Montreal. However, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz also had a mostly free ride. There is no luxury in this area. The Melbourne example showed that it can also work with Haas. Hülkenberg came in seventh place.

One reason the tires are so miserable is that the Haas VF-23 only operates within a small air window. To keep them there, the cars have very stiff suspension on the rear axle, which is not good for the tires. Hülkenberg has already criticized this several times: “The hits are really brutal. You come out after the race and you no longer know where the front and back are. There are 5-6g vertical forces in play.”

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