Formula 1

Haas’ Günther Steiner hopes to “extract the full potential” of VF-23 in Saudi Arabia

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Credit: Andy Hone / LAT Images / Haas F1 Team

Haas F1 Team Principal Günther Steiner reflected on the “challenging” back-to-back weekends of pre-season testing and the Bahrain Grand Prix, coming away pleased with their qualifying result and optimistic about improving upon their race day fortunes. 

Nico Hülkenberg made it into Q3 in his first weekend with the team, qualifying in tenth, while teammate Kevin Magnussen slotted into seventeenth. Points weren’t in the cards for the team, however, with Magnussen finishing thirteenth and Hülkenberg ending up in fifteenth. 

“It was quite challenging because we had pre-season testing and then there was very little time before the race. 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 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 on the hard tire 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 out permanently at all the races – so I’m really looking forward to those races.” 

When asked what he felt was the most surprising result of the season opener, Steiner said that Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team was particularly impressive, with Fernando Alonso making it onto the podium after lots of talk surrounding the team’s potential throughout testing. 

“Like everyone, we were surprised by the positive performance of Aston Martin and Alonso. I think they’ve done a very good job over the winter with their car and now they’re tipped to be on top this year. During the race they had very good race pace with Red Bull, and those two cars stand out in the field at the moment.”

Steiner feels that the new pairing of Magnussen and Hülkenberg is working out well as of yet, with Hülkenberg bringing his own share of experience and knowledge to the team. 

“They’re working well together and there is respect between them. It’s very good for Kevin to have a teammate with experience and what Nico brings with him is experience. The race engineers clearly feel like they get a lot of information from him after each session, which will bring the race weekend forward, but also overall the race team forward, performance-wise.” 

Points are the goal for Steiner going into the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, and he hopes that the team can bring their learnings from Bahrain into the second round of the season in order to set themselves up for success. 

“Jeddah is a little bit different in terms of layout compared to Bahrain but 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.”

Credit: Steven Tee / LAT Images / Haas F1 Team
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