Haas must make structural changes over winter – Hulkenberg

Sun, 26 November 2023, 10:00

Nov.26 (GMM) Nico Hulkenberg is ending the first season since his Formula 1 comeback with a stark warning to his boss – things need to change at Haas.

The German has been the small American team’s fastest driver in 2023, and he even made Q3 at the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

But he’s not confident about Sunday’s race, given that even the updated ‘B’ car – which he personally abandoned as of Las Vegas last weekend – chews up the tyres over several laps.

“I want to enjoy this moment,” Hulkenberg said after qualifying. “Tomorrow, I don’t know. Maybe there will be a surprise.

“But realistically I don’t expect any big changes compared to the rest of the season.”

He makes no secret of the fact that Haas has much bigger problems than just holding on to a point or two on Sunday – with dead-last in the constructors’ championship now basically guaranteed.

“Gunther (Steiner) and the others in the management have to ask some serious questions and look at all areas,” Hulkenberg, 36, told Ekstra Bladet newspaper.

“There are technical people responsible for making the car faster,” he added. “Does something need to change with the structure, personnel or something else?

“I want to believe that it will happen in the coming weeks.”

It is rumoured that Hulkenberg began to step up his rhetoric about Haas’ problems over recent weeks after Audi expressed interest in having a German in Sauber’s car in time for 2026.

“It is not realistic for us to compete for second, third place in Formula 1,” he said. “But we should be challenging for sixth, seventh.

“The development or the lack of development has been a disappointment,” Hulkenberg insists. “It wasn’t good enough.”

He says Haas has hit a wall in terms of producing new parts in the factory that then work as they should on the actual track.

“We have a big problem with the correlation,” he told Auto Bild. “Our engineers, technicians and aerodynamicists have to learn and do a better job. Because to experience another year like this would be very difficult.

“It’s obviously not good when you bring out an update and it changes nothing. It means that something is wrong.”

Hulkenberg voluntarily abandoned the ‘B’ car in Las Vegas, and he insists it was the right choice.

“I demonstrated to the team that the new car is not faster and that is of course a problem,” he told Sky Deutschland. “That is a message to the factory, to our engineers and our mechanics.

“Next year we have to do something different. That was the problem of the year for us – that we were unable to develop and were brutally overtaken.”

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