The unique F1 upgrade Haas hopes will solve its race tyre dramas

Haas has introduced a new pitot sensor on its VF-23 2023 Formula 1 car, which it hopes will help understand its current problems with severe in-race tyre wear. 

Haas VF-23 technical detail

On several occasions this season, including most recently at the Canadian Grand Prix, Haas has seen high grid spots turn into lowly finishing positions as a result of its problem, which is exacerbated running in traffic in race situations. 

Nico Hulkenberg qualified second in Montreal and then started fifth after being hit with a penalty for driving too fast under the Q3 red flag, but came home 15th. 

He said afterwards that “there's nothing really that we can do with set-up to fix this - it's bigger issues” and called for Haas to implement a “longer-term strategy that we need to pursue to get really much better at it”. 

As part of this at this weekend’s Austrian GP, Haas has introduced a new pitot static sensor on the middle part of the nose on the VF-23. 

The new part, according to Haas’s explanation in the FIA document where all teams are required to explain upgrades, is of a “lower aerodynamic disturbance” and has “an improved functionality in the operations and data analysis”.

Haas VF-23 technical detail

Haas VF-23 technical detail

Photo by: Alex Kalinauckas

The team added that “the pitot static sensor is a fundamental instrument for the work in wind tunnel and to accrue aerodynamic parameter on a land vehicle”.

It continued: “On a car, and in particular for a F1 model, that requires accuracy in the data acquisition and reliability for any condition can be found during a race.

“We have chosen to improve the overall quality with a latest generation combination of components and instrumentation”.

Autosport understands that Haas is hoping the data gathered by the new sensor will help it break down its current race tyre wear issue. 

Ahead of the track action getting underway at the Red Bull Ring, Kevin Magnussen, who fell from starting fourth in Miami to finish 10th there, explained that Haas’s current problem “feels like a more fundamental issue than just set-up”.  

He added: “I think compared to 2019 [when Haas also had a record of qualifying well and then dropping back that was put down to an inherent aerodynamic imbalance], it’s a very different set of rules.  

“Regulations for the cars are much different this time. So, we can’t point to the same place on the car and say ‘it’s that bit again’.  

“It’s the same sort of issue, where we can be fast on one lap and then over a stint we wear our tyres more and we have a harder time in traffic than our competitors.  

Haas VF-23 technical detail

Haas VF-23 technical detail

Photo by: Alex Kalinauckas

“That’s the kind of thing. When we’re alone in free air, we’re more or less where we expect ourselves to be.  

“It’s when we fall into traffic or when it’s tough on tyres, if it’s bumpy – stuff like this – the inconsistencies are too big.” 

Magnussen also suggested that the VF-23 has a narrow operating window, which is contributing to its form fluctuations.  

“Generally, throughout the weekends, one session you’re P8 the next you’re P18, and you’re back in 10th the next time,” he said.  

“The window where it works well is very narrow. When it does work well it’s really good – we can qualify in the top five. And when it’s not we’re out in Q1. It’s very much up and down. 

“[The tyre wear issue] is made even worse in traffic. Way worse.  

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“There’s never any point in the weekend where we say, ‘ok, we’re good enough here’. It’s always constantly you want more performance on everything.

“But I think it’s an underlying problem that just gets much worse in the race, when also you have to go longer on the tyres, there’s other cars that you’re following and it also gets worse on tracks that are bumpy.”

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