Haas buoyed by impressive lap tally in testing

Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas VF-24. 23.02.2024. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir, Bahrain, Day Three. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Bearne / XPB Images
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Haas might not have been capturing many headlines with their low-key performance in pre-season testing at Bahrain International Circuit, but their reliability so far is certainly something to celebrate.

Last year the team suffered the ignominy of ending up last in the constructors championship, with race pace a major problem as the car ate through its tyres and left them well off the pace of their rivals.

But under new team principal Ayao Komatsu, the team appears to have made significant progress with the VF-24, which completed a total of 441 laps (2,386.70km, or 1483.03 miles) across the three days.

Between them, drivers Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg added an additional 169 laps to the team’s tally on Friday, which once again went without any significant issues or problems.

The lap times haven't been anything to shout about - Magnussen ended up 16th fastest today, 2.731s off the pace of Charles Leclerc, while Hulkenberg was P11 and 1.364s off the Ferrari's pace.

But Komatsu said the test hadn't been about single lap pace and that they hadn't even begun to look at qualifying run simulations until today.

"Today we completed our first qualifying sim, looking at the low-fuel car balance, and then we completed two race simulations," he reported after the end of the say's track running.

"We successfully achieved all of this despite the track issues today," he added, alluding to a lengthy early red flag stoppage for another drain cover issue.

Ayao Komatsu (JPN) Haas F1 Team Principal. 23.02.2024. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir, Bahrain, Day Three. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images

"It’s been a very, very good day basically. Our race simulations show that yes, we’ve got lots more work to do, but at the same time we’ve got a base car that we can actually race.

"[As for] the qualifying performance, we haven’t worked on it at all. Today was our first time looking at it. But again, it was decent. We’ve had a very good start to the season with all this preparation in testing. I’m very happy."

"Given the limited time I think we’ve done a lot, got some good impressions of the car," was Magnussen's verdict, adding: “You never get all the answers you need and you always want more time.

He felt that the new car was making progress in terms of addressing last year's issue with long runs. We’ve been doing a lot of high-fuel race running, trying to address that issue, and I think we’re going somewhere.

Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas VF-24. 22.02.2024. Formula 1 Testing, Sakhir, Bahrain, Day Two. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Bearne / XPB Images

"We haven’t fixed the issue completely but hopefully it’s enough to make a difference [next weekend]. I expect it to be very close between all teams again this year.”

Hulkenberg was pleased to have got through the planned testing program and got done what they had wanted to do, including a completed a race run.

"Now we’ve got lots of impressions after three days of testing, lots of data and things to analyze," he said. "We’ve been able to do some experiments like most, as that’s what you do in testing, and it’s been good, positive.

But whether Haas have made up enough ground to get themselves off the back row of the grid next week remains to be seen, even to the drivers.

"I have no idea where we stand, or what it’s worth, but we’ll get that answer in a week," Hulkenberg acknowledged. "It’s early days.

"But from in the car, from where I sit, if I compare the car to last year, it does feel better and like we’ve made a step in the right direction.”

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