HAAS’ strong start to the 2024 F1 season explained

Alex Gassman

by Alex Gassman

HAAS F1 car

Image licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

After just three races of the 2024 Formula 1 season, HAAS have already racked up a third of the points they scored in the entire 2023 season.

Here’s a look at how they’ve managed to have such a strong start to 2024, where they are currently sat in 7th place in the constructor’s standings.

Changes at the top

Some of the biggest news to hit the headlines before this year’s season began was the departure of the much loved Gunther Steiner from HAAS. He’d served as the Team Principal for 8 years, from 2016 to 2023.

Whilst he’s always been the standout performer on the Drive to Survive Netflix show, his team’s performance had reached an all time low over the last couple of years.

Image licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

I love Gunther as much as everyone else, but I think it was time for him to go. I think he was probably kept on longer at HAAS because of his popularity.

He was replaced with Ayao Komatsu who was previously the Chief Race Engineer for the team. And his engineering background seems to have played a part in HAAS’ early success this season.

HAAS' 2024 F1 results so far

Here’s a look at how HAAS have managed to score 4 points already this year, just 3 races in to the season.

Rd 1: Bahrain GP

Qualifying result:

  • Nico Hukenberg – 10th
  • Kevin Magnussen – 15th

Race result:

  • Nico Hulkenberg: 16th     – 0 points                       
  • Kevin Magnussen: 12th – 0 points

Unfortunately the Hulk’s race didn’t get off to a good start. He made contact with Lance Stroll at the first corner and had to pit on the first lap for a new front wing, putting him in to last place.

Magnussen had a better start and was up to 12th by the end of the first lap, which is where he ended up finishing the race, just out of the points.

Rd 2: Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Qualifying result:

  • Nico Hukenberg – 15th
  • Kevin Magnussen – 13th

Race result:

  • Nico Hukenberg – 10th – 1 point
  • Kevin Magnussen – 12th – 0 points

Magnussen was hit with a couple of post-race time penalties fairly early on in to the race which meant he was never going to be in contention for scoring any points. So HAAS turned their attention to maximizing Nico’s chances.

Nico had a good start to the race. He decided to stay out when others pitted during the safety car caused by Lance Stroll’s crash, which briefly saw him jump up to 8th. Russell and Bearman passed him, meaning he settled in to 10th place from lap 18 onwards.

Magnussen was a couple of places behind. HAAS knew that Hulkenberg would need to pit again for fresher tyres, so they asked Kevin Magnussen in 12th to start to back off the pace and slow the cars behind him down.

The aim was to create enough of gap in front of K-Mag to allow Nico to take his pit stop and rejoin the race ahead of his teammate. That meant that Kevin would have to try and keep the train of Ocon, Albon, Tsunoda, Sargeant and Ricciardo behind him.

And that’s exactly what he did. Through some very defensive driving he managed to prevent any of the other cars from passing him, all whilst slowing down the pace to create enough of a gap for Nico’s pit stop.

On lap 34 Hulkenberg pitted and rejoined just a few metres ahead of K-Mag. The strategy worked, Kevin drove a great team race and Hulkenberg came home in 10th with 1 point to his name.

Rd 3: Australian Grand Prix

Qualifying result:

  • Nico Hukenberg – 16th
  • Kevin Magnussen – 14th

Race result:

  • Nico Hulkenberg: 9th   – 2 points                       
  • Kevin Magnussen: 10th – 1 point

The top 10 finishing spots are usually occupied by Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren and Aston Martin cars. So any time one of those 10 cars isn’t going to finish a race, the other teams know there’s a big opportunity to grab a point or two.

That’s exactly what happened at the Australian Grand Prix. Max Verstappen retired on lap 5 and Lewis Hamilton’s engine failed on lap 15.

The HAAS drivers had got themselves in to good positions, with Hulk and K-Mag running in 10th and 11th respectively. And then, on the penultimate lap, George Russell crashed out when chasing Alonso.

All of a sudden HAAS had two cars in the top 10 when the chequered flag fell. They scored a total of 3 points, the highest single-race points haul for the team since the same race exactly one year earlier.

The rest of the season

HAAS have had a good start to the year. Their 4 points put them in 7th place in the constructor’s standings, just 2 points behind RB Honda (that VISA Cash App whatchamacallit team).

Alpine and Sauber seem to be in pretty poor shape this season. They are both well off the pace and don’t look like showing any sign of good form any time soon.

Williams have Albon at their disposal and with their new leader James Vowles making big changes, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them picking up the pace as the season progresses.

HAAS will definitely have a fight on their hands.

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Alex Gassman

I‘m Alex. I write F1 and motorsport travel guides based on my experience as racing driver and full-time motorsport nerd. I’ve traveled the world watching F1 and other racing series.

I started oversteer48 with the aim of helping other motorsport fans who are planning on watching some racing themselves.

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