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Haas to take different approach to Bahrain F1 test

Haas Formula 1 boss Ayao Komatsu says that the team will focus its Bahrain test mileage on addressing last year’s tyre issues rather than on overall performance.

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas F1 Team

Photo by: Haas F1 Team

The VF-23 struggled all year with tyre overheating that meant good grid positions went to waste as the cars slipped down the order in races.

Haas has tried to address that inherent trait with the VF-24 and will use this week’s three days of testing in Bahrain to judge if it has been successful rather than trying different set-ups in search of a performance sweet spot.

“It's not really so much comparing the differences across the specs, but if you look at our issue last year, it was clear that on Sunday we just couldn’t manage the tyres for 300 kilometres,” said Komatsu. “So that’s what we’re focused on.

“Our Bahrain test programme is completely focused on generating the relevant data so that our engineers can understand what’s happening to the car and what’s happening to the tyres.

“Then we can decide, if we have good quality data, on the conclusion of how to improve it. Then we decide a different direction on that.”

Ayao Komatsu, Team Principal of Haas F1 Team

Ayao Komatsu, Team Principal of Haas F1 Team

Photo by: Haas F1 Team

Komatsu doesn’t expect the team will make rapid progress relative to its rivals, but he is confident in the longer-term picture.

“The short-term objective really is to make incremental improvements,” he said. “As I’ve said before, I believe we’ve got good ingredients and we’ve got good people in the team, but we’ve really got to focus on the team being as one to make those improvements.

“Long-term obviously comes as a result of that, so for instance, our first ‘medium-term’ goal is to upgrade to a car that works, and that has happened before so I believe we can do it.”

Kevin Magnussen made it clear that he wants a consistent car, and suggested that last year’s upgrade package – first seen at the US GP – was a useful step.

“I think the car we started the season with – before race 19 when we got the upgrade – had good grip, the peak grip was nice, but it was very unstable and inconsistent,” said the Dane. “It’s something that I struggled with a little bit.

“I like the front to be at least consistent so that I can deal with oversteer or understeer. It’s not like I have a preference really, it’s the inconsistency, especially on the late entry to the corners, that’s where I need to be able to commit to getting the car rotated and staying on the brakes.

“It helped a lot with the car from Austin. It wasn’t a massive step, but it was a step in the right direction, and I hope this year is an even bigger step in that direction.”

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas F1 Team

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas F1 Team

Photo by: Haas F1 Team

Magnussen believes that lessons learned in 2023 will pay off with the VF-24 over this season.

“The update was more of an experiment last year,” he said. “It’s hard to call it an update or upgrade because it wasn’t really upwards, it was just sideways, but it was a very good experiment in terms of committing to the concept of car that we have this year.

“I think we wanted to see the potential and characteristics on track with this concept of car, and this year is in that direction. 

"I hope we can take a step forward. We committed to this year’s car quite late in development, so we’ve had quite a short time to develop, and it’s actually been going quite well.

“Although I don’t think we can guarantee that it’s a step forward straightaway in Bahrain at the first race, I think the development looks more interesting at least.” 

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