Haas will be going into 2024 with the same driver line-up as this year, with Nico Hulkenberg and Kevin Magnussen staying on for another season, but the question is why?
Nico Hulkenberg came back to Formula 1 like he never left, with the German driver pulling out some performances that went beyond the capabilities of his Haas car. The standout is the German’s fourth place in a mixed-conditions Sprint Qualifying session for the Austrian GP sprint race, where he out-qualified both Ferrari drivers.
Furthermore, when the sprint got underway, he found himself in third position for multiple laps until the capabilities of the VF-23 caught up with him as he dropped like a rock through the order.
It hasn’t been a season without fault though, as the driver from Emmerich has had a total of 25 seconds worth of penalties this season, the first 15 seconds coming from two penalties for abusing track limits in his debut race for Haas at the Bahrain Grand Prix, the other 10 seconds came from contact with Logan Sargent on the opening lap of the Monaco Grand Prix and then for not serving that penalty correctly.
Kevin Magnussen hasn’t had as strong of a season as Hulkenberg with the Danish driver languishing 18th in the drivers championship on just two points, compared to his teammate’s nine, but nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that Magnussen is a less capable driver.
He replicated his teammate’s best Qualifying result of fourth in Miami in an arguably more impressive result as the Dain achieved this in dry conditions when his teammate was arguably having a weaker weekend, which is arguably why they hired him as he is a driver who will get points on the bad days, as he did on this day with a tenth place finish.
Moreover, despite what the points suggest, in race performances putting the drivers head to head they are tied, with both Magnussen and Hulkenberg finishing ahead of one another in six races each, conveying the partnership between the two drivers is strong.
Guenther Steiner believes the driver lineup they have is solid:
“I think it’s safe to say that we’ve had an extremely solid driver pairing this season in Formula 1 and ultimately there was no reason to look to change that moving forward,”
“Kevin is obviously a very well-known quantity to us, and I’m delighted he’ll return for what will be his seventh season in Haas colours.
“With 113 starts for our team alone, we know where his strengths lie, and his knowledge and experience of our organization pairs very well with that too. On the other side of the garage, Nico’s simply slotted in without fuss or fanfare and proved himself to be a valuable member of the team. He’s approaching 200 starts in Formula 1 and we’re very happy to be the beneficiary of that experience behind the wheel.”
Steiner spoke further about the issues they have faced with the VF-23:
“We’ve had to tackle our issues this season with regards to the VF-23, we don’t hide from that, but we’ve been extremely fortunate to have had two drivers whose feedback is invaluable in assisting our engineering objectives. Kevin and Nico gelled well right from the get-go and together they’ve both scored points, and in particular, Nico has excelled in qualifying – getting into Q3 on six occasions.”