Haas F1 VF-23 runs at Silverstone shakedown

Q&A with Simone Resta, Technical Director

By Franck Drui

11 February 2023 - 14:56
Haas F1 VF-23 runs at Silverstone (...)

The VF-23 breaks cover today at Silverstone Circuit, England in a private shakedown ahead of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship. To mark another milestone for this season’s challenger, Simone Resta, Technical Director of MoneyGram Haas F1 Team discusses the creation of the VF-23, the impact of securing eighth place in the Constructors’ Championship and ambitions for the season ahead.

Let’s briefly reflect on last season, summarizing your feelings on this new era of F1 machinery and the performance of the VF-22?

“We saw that nearly every team was struggling a little bit at the beginning with porpoising, and this new characteristic of the cars wasn’t easy to be ‘captured’ in development. We reacted well from the beginning and so were able to have good pace from the very first races. I’d say we started quite well and of course, we invested for some development, which we brought in mid-season. We saw an evolution of the relative performance between teams, with some teams improving their performance, especially the ones who were struggling a little bit more in the beginning. We also finished with an incredible performance, getting our first pole position in Brazil.”

What emotions and motivation did that give the team working on the VF-23?

“After a hard 2021, 2022 was really a great comeback and it gave a massive boost to everyone working on the car – both at the factory and those at track. We’re building on that momentum this season and try to make another step. I would say it was probably quite a young group formed at the end of 2020 and beginning of 2021, so after one year of working together, I think it’s a good opportunity to create another car together with a better rhythm and better collaboration as a team.”
What were the main lessons to take from the VF-22 to the VF-23?

“Looking back at last year I think there are many lessons, and I think that we’ll be able to address all of them. We saw quite a good performance at some tracks but more difficulties at other circuits. The issues seen with porpoising, we’ve tried to improve them also. In general, we’ve collected all the feedback, prioritized, and made sure that the new project will feature improvement in all areas.”

Finishing eighth in the Constructors’ Championship meant the welcomed prize of more money to the team. How has this been utilized from your side?

“Finishing eighth in the 2022 Constructors’ Championship has been a very positive result for the team. Of course, we aim to always do better and finish better, but I think it was a very good step forward and this will inevitably give some extra resource to the team. We are always trying to maximize the amount of money we can invest to move forward and make another step. That has been one of the aims with this new project to be able to have a stronger in-season development program.

When did the work on the VF-23 begin and can you talk us through the milestones up until the livery reveal?

“Concept work on the VF- 23 started approximately after the first races of last season, basically as soon as we put the car on track, and we started learning about it. We then started to do work on our own new model with some aerodynamic development and some initial concept work. Week after week, month after month, there is a progressive increase of resources, a progressive shift from one project to the other, up to the point that when you arrive at shutdown, the vast majority of resources are on the new car.

“There is this transition period that is going more or less from the first race until shutdown, where the resources are moving from one project to the other. Then it’s a matter of starting to release the big models in production, the chassis and then all the other parts etc.

“That is again another transition between shutdown and Christmas time where the majority of components are in production. At car build, we start with the chassis and the fuel system and then step by step we start to add blocks like the suspension and then the radiator and the cooling system etc. We planned to fire up the car at the beginning of February ready for our filming day on track.”

Can you take us through the main areas of focus and updates to this season’s challenger?

“We’re looking at all main areas of intervention from 2022 to 2023. We try to save a few of the components on last season’s car but try to improve the aerodynamic performance of the car, improve the weight of the component and improve the quality of the component. There has been a massive rework of the car – some of the components don’t look radically different – it’s probably more a development of the 2022 car but there is a complete rework of the car involving many, many components.”

Do you think the grid will be much tighter this season or will the midfield fight spread out?

“It’s always very difficult to predict what’s happening in a new season in terms of competitiveness and ranking from the first to the last cars on the grid. Considering a good stability in terms of regulation and considering the outcome of last year, I think that we might see the gap closing, but let’s see.”

In a bid to stop porpoising and guarantee safety, the floor of this season’s car is raised by 15mm. As one of the teams who didn’t suffer with as much porpoising, has this impacted car build?

“In the middle of last year, the FIA decided to start a program to improve the safety of the cars with some short-term and medium-term actions. The short-term were reflected already while the medium-term actions will materialize with the new car. As mentioned, the floor will be modified and is going to be the biggest change of the car in terms of regulation. It’s aimed to improve porpoising and I suppose it will cost everyone a little bit of performance, but at the start of the last year everyone has learned so much that I believe everyone will be in a much better place in terms of the porpoising characteristics of these new cars.”

Something that is always discussed throughout the season is upgrades. Is there already a roll-out plan for updates this season?

“On upgrades, I think it’s probably one of the most ‘fashionable’ arguments in Formula 1 and I won’t spoil the surprise for anyone. For sure, we’ll have a stronger program of upgrades compared to last year and we are still working on that, we are at the very beginning. We’ve just defined the launch car, so the team is working on it, we have our roadmap, but it’s very early to say exactly what we’ll do and when.”

What are the goals and targets for 2023, following a season where the team secured its first pole position?

“Last year’s pole position brought great joy to everyone in the team – it was the first for Haas. For me, our objective is always to maximize our performance in every condition, on every track, with both drivers. How that will materialize into a final result, I’m not sure. It would be great to see a podium or a race win, we always have to aim high and let’s see what we can get in 2023.”

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