United States GP: Preview - Haas


MoneyGram Haas F1 Team is heading back onto home soil for the second time this season for the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas, Round 19 of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship.

Formula 1's United States Grand Prix has had a long and storied history and has traversed the breadth of the country, from upstate New York at Watkins Glen, via the streets of Arizona's Phoenix, to the fabled tarmac of Indianapolis' Motor Speedway. In 2012, after an absence of several years, Formula 1 found a permanent home at the purpose-built Circuit of the Americas, located just outside of Austin, Texas.

COTA's 5.5km layout has been acclaimed by drivers through its first decade of competition. The opening corner, Big Red, takes drivers on a steep climb before cascading rapidly into a sequence of high-speed changes of direction inspired by the likes of Silverstone and Suzuka that continues for almost half of the lap. A lengthy back straight provides overtaking opportunities which frequently leads to side-by-side racing through a more technical stadium section. The long-radius multi-apex right-hander beneath COTA's iconic Observation Tower is followed by a tricky couple of left-hand turns that complete the lap.

MoneyGram Haas F1 Team drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen will tackle COTA in a heavily updated VF-23 entry. The long-awaited update package on the VF-23 is wholly aerodynamic-led. Almost the entire bodywork has been revised, including floor, engine cover, sidepod inlet, sidepods, quarter panel and padding gills. The objective of the upgrade is to improve the aerodynamic characteristics of the car as a whole - the team seeking improved consistency as well as better aerodynamic delivery. Crucially the latest-spec package will provide valuable data to inform the overall direction of the team's 2024 entry - the third year of the current design regulations.

The aesthetics of the VF-23 will look somewhat different too this weekend with a special edition livery being run across both cars (concept image above). Having previewed the one-off United States Grand Prix race suits to be worn by Hulkenberg and Magnussen last week, the VF-23 will sport a 'Stars & Stripes' themed livery including the team's tagline for the weekend - 'We The People' - the opening line of the United States Constitution. In addition to this, MoneyGram will celebrate the one-year anniversary of the announcement of the Dallas-based company becoming the team's title partner with an additional touch to the livery of the car - to be revealed on Thursday 19 October.

There will be an extra star on the car too with the bright yellow star of the Starlight Children's Foundation adorning the rear wing of both entries - the team continuing its activations on and off-site over the weekend with the charity formed with a mission to deliver happiness to seriously ill children and their families - now working with over 800 children's hospitals across America.

Back on-track - MoneyGram Haas F1 Team last season claimed points at home courtesy of ninth place for Kevin Magnussen, who also captured a top 10 result at the Miami Grand Prix earlier in 2023. Nico Hulkenberg, who was part of the starting line-up for COTA's debut race in 2012, claimed a best of sixth in both 2013 and 2018. COTA will also host F1 Sprint, the fifth of sixth presences in 2023, and the first time in history that the format has been run on successive grand prix weekends.

This week MoneyGram Haas F1 Team takes over Austin for the US Grand Prix - a race the team fondly thinks of as its home. With a full roster of commercial activity and events, is this a week where you fully realize the growth of the sport in the US?
Guenther Steiner - Team Principal: "Absolutely, and it's not only the amount of people who come and watch the sport, it's unbelievable what COTA has done and how the sport has grown in America, which is a very good thing. I've seen this race grow so much over the last 10 years. I first went in its second year, and from then to now, this is a race on the calendar that all of Formula 1 looks forward to.

"For us, it's another busy home race with a lot of events happening. Myself, Kevin and Nico are heading to Dallas to meet with the MoneyGram team and celebrate one year of our title partnership being announced. When you get to Austin, you can't escape the buzz of the event, and every year we go, the team becomes a bigger part of that excitement. Once again, we'll be changing our look across the car, driver suits, our garage and everything you see online.

"One thing that is different this season, is our look and feel is encapsulated under the tagline 'We The People' - the first line of the American Constitution. There's obviously a lot of talk about American teams right now, but we're still currently the only American team on the Formula 1 grid. Many have said for years that we haven't exploited that fact, but I've always said that's because we want to earn credibility within the paddock first. We've been through a lot in our short time, but along the way have amassed a very loyal, and growing fanbase, and we want to recognize them. Yes, it's some nice marketing, but anyone who works with my team knows how passionate they are, and how funny and genuine our fans are. This race is dedicated to them as, we the people, make Haas what it is."

There's also anticipation for the new upgrade package the team is bringing to COTA. Can you explain the areas this upgrade is meant to improve, and the process behind such a substantial update - for example, its inclusion within the cost cap.
GS: "The upgrade on the VF-23 is aerodynamic. We changed the concept of the car because what we started with, because of the new regulations last year, we couldn't make any more gains performance-wise. Creating more downforce and less drag, it just wasn't there anymore, so we needed to change concept, to which is commonly known as the "Red Bull concept" or the "downwash concept". It is a substantial update, and we're able to do this within the cost cap because we didn't have any updates at the beginning of the season because again, going back, we couldn't find any performance that we could make parts to put on the car."

It's been a year since MoneyGram announced its title sponsorship of Haas F1 Team. How has the partnership bolstered the team and what is still to come?
GS: "It is fantastic to have MoneyGram on the car and on our first anniversary, they've been a very good partner and we are very proud to have them. They do a lot of activations with their brand, which carries our brand as well, and that makes the team stronger. The more exposure you have, the better it is for everyone, for our other partners, for Haas and Haas Automation."

MoneyGram Haas F1 Team returns to where many consider its home, the US Grand Prix. It's an event filled with fans and fun - what makes this week special to you?
Kevin Magnussen: "COTA is our original home race, the first we came to as an American team on home soil. I had a really good race there last year and it really is one of the favorites of the year. It's packed with people who are in love with Formula 1 and many of them have just recently fallen in love with Formula 1, it's really a massive event. Given we're the American team and we have many American partners including our title sponsor, obviously we hope to do well there."

We know you've been patiently waiting for this update, and now it's here. What were your inputs into improvements needed to the car and what are you expecting from this package - in relation to helping both short-term and long-term, thinking ahead to next season?
KM: "I'd be lying if I didn't hope it will give us a big improvement, but I think there's actually a second element to bringing this upgrade which is to research for next year. I think we're all secretly hoping it performs better than what we currently have but actually the bigger target with this is, is the research and the learning we can do for next year's car. I think it's been clear that in very specific circumstances our car can perform, but it's a too narrow window and we need to broaden it and make it more user friendly and compliant with a bigger variety of tracks and conditions. Hopefully we'll be able to follow easier and be more friendly to tires."

We know you're a big fan of American culture - visiting some famous landmarks and States with family in a campervan. What is it about the US that you like, and what is still to tick-off your American bucket list?
KM: "There's lots I want to do. I love getting out in nature and there's some fantastic national parks out in America. Certainly, many of them are on my bucket list. I just like all the space, it's a huge country. In Denmark, everything is very close together, so when you go to the US you feel like you're on a different planet. I love spending time over there, I have some really good memories from working over there and with family holidaying."

MoneyGram Haas F1 Team returns to where many consider its home, the US Grand Prix. It will be your first time at COTA racing for America's F1 team, what do you already know about this event, and what are you expecting from the week?
Nico Hulkenberg:: "I've been racing at COTA since its first year on the calendar and it's a great event, very different to others. I've experienced one home race already in Miami, and that was a very busy week, so I'm expecting another. It's quite unique to be a Formula 1 team and have the majority of your partners coming from the same country. This event is mainly unique because of the fans - they're super enthusiastic, and many have come from watching 'Drive to Survive' - so I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of Haas fans, or at least a lot of Guenther Steiner t-shirts!"

We know you've been patiently waiting for this update, and now it's here. What were your inputs into improvements needed to the car and what are you expecting from this package - in relation to helping both short-term and long-term, thinking ahead to next season?
NH "The update is highly anticipated, it's been a long time coming and it's aimed to improve our performance, characteristics, and the weaknesses of the car we've found which has made us struggle especially on Sunday. It's to help tire wear, consistency, and better performance. Kevin and I since the beginning of the season, or after every session, feedback our findings and feelings to the engineers and designers. Hopefully, there's a big jump in performance, but also, we need direction for next year - where we're going to go with this car, which philosophy we'll follow and which direction to take."

Coming to the business end of the season, and it being an apt location, how do you assess your first season at MoneyGram Haas F1 Team and hopes for next season?
NH "Obviously on track it hasn't delivered what we'd hoped for. Being able to capitalize on Saturday's pace and show off what the car and I can do has been fun, but points are given on Sunday so the trend of falling back during the race hasn't been fun. Nonetheless, I've really enjoyed working with this team and building those relationships with the crew in the garage, and my engineering team and getting to meet the team working hard back at the factories. This update is an indication of what this team strives for and I'm looking forward to the upcoming races and the next season with them."

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Published: 18/10/2023
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