The US racing team Haas with returnee Nico Hülkenberg has gently heralded the new Formula 1 year - even if only a part of the new car that is insignificant for the performance was presented. The ambitions are growing, which is also due to the new sponsor.
Comeback in black: The Haas team with returnee Nico Hülkenberg was the first Formula 1 racing team to present its car for the new season. At least part of it. Because at the "presentation" of the VF-23, the new color scheme was only revealed on photos, the racing car shown was still that of the previous year. And so Haas ushered in the presentation aria, but also kept the cards hidden, as is typical for Formula 1. With Red Bull, the first top team in Formula 1 will show the new car of world champion Max Verstappen on Friday, Ferrari will follow on February 14, and Mercedes a day later.
The public is unlikely to see the actual VF-23 until February 23, at the start of the three-day test drive in Bahrain. On the course in Sakhir, the start of the season will also take place on March 5th. Haas wants to send his new race car onto the track for the first time on February 11th as part of a short drive behind closed doors at Silverstone. Then Hülkenberg should also drive his first meters.
The team colors are black, white and red - with black dominating unlike in the past. This is also due to the team's new major sponsor, an American financial services provider. Everything should be different with MoneyGram: For the first time, the upper limit of the budget is within reach, so far Haas was well below the last allowed $ 150 million. What is possible remains to be seen. The team has been through turbulent years, struggling with economic survival for a long time and slipping to the bottom of the field. Last season was a step forward, the talent Mick Schumacher and Kevin Magnussen, who were no longer employed, occasionally finished in the points again.
Team owner Gene Haas nevertheless formulated the goal of finishing in the top ten more often than last year. "With Magnussen and Hulkenberg I believe we have an experienced driver pairing that is more than capable of scoring points on a Sunday." The 35-year-old Hulkenberg is the only German pilot this season. He contested his last season as a regular driver in 2019 for Renault, after which he made four appearances as a substitute. In total, Hülkenberg has competed in 181 races in the premier class. And he holds the little coveted record of being the driver with the most starts without a podium finish - even if the experts agree that this primarily had to do with Hülkenberg's previous racing cars.
Even Haas has not yet managed to place in the top three in 144 Grand Prix - with two cars - and an explosion in performance is not to be expected in the short term. Nevertheless, the anticipation of Hülkenberg, who married in his three years on the Formula 1 reserve bank and became the father of a daughter, is immense. "The tension, the thrill, the kick" he was missing, he recently told the specialist magazine Autosport: "And the feeling has prevailed that I want to go back, that I want to do it all for a while."