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 below). 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.
While not quite a ‘B-Spec’ version of the VF-23, the upgrade package being introduced to the car this weekend is a significant one and, like many other teams, sees Haas emulate the ground effect concept chosen by Red Bull.
“The upgrade on the VF-23 is aerodynamic,” team boss Guenther Steiner said.
“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 the concept, 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.”
“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,” Magnussen said.
“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.”
“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,” said Hulkenberg.
“It’s to help tire wear, consistency, and better performance. Kevin and I since the beginning of the season, or after every session, feedback on 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.”