Bahrain Grand Prix: PreviewMarch 1, 2023
MoneyGram Haas F1 Team is geared up for its eighth season of competition in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, commencing with this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
MoneyGram Haas F1 Team enters the new campaign buoyed by its performance in Formula 1’s competitive midfield in 2022, classifying eighth in the Constructors’ Championship, and is ready to add another chapter to its journey.
For 2023 the team’s VF-23s will be raced by veteran pairing Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg.
Magnussen raced for MoneyGram Haas F1 Team between 2017 and 2020 prior to returning in 2022. Magnussen (30) has started 141 grands prix, scoring 183 career points, with a best result of second, and last year memorably captured his and MoneyGram Haas F1 Team’s maiden pole position at the São Paulo Grand Prix en route to 13th in the Drivers’ Championship.
Hulkenberg (35) will return full-time to Formula 1 in 2023 with MoneyGram Haas F1 Team. Hulkenberg has contested 181 grands prix, most recently at the 2022 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, when he replaced Sebastian Vettel at Aston Martin F1. Hulkenberg has scored 521 career points with a best finish of fourth, achieved on three occasions.
Bahrain will open the new Formula 1 season for the third successive year, marking the first stop on a record-breaking 23-event schedule, which will include a trio of visits to the United States in Miami, Austin and Las Vegas.
The Bahrain International Circuit has featured on Formula 1’s calendar since 2004 and the 5.412km circuit is known for its lengthy full-throttle section, sweeping curves, interspersed with slow-speed tire-damaging traction zones.
Last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix was particularly memorable as Magnussen netted fifth position on his return to MoneyGram Haas F1 Team, while Hulkenberg finished 17th after a last-minute call-up by Aston Martin F1. The duo also have experience of the Bahrain International Circuit in this year’s VF-23 after three days of pre-season testing at the track.
Magnussen and Hulkenberg collaborated to complete 415 laps (2245.98 kilometers, 1395.64 miles), which is over seven grands prix race distances of mileage accrued, gaining valuable data and understanding of the package with which they will contest the 2023 season.
The structure of grand prix weekends remains unchanged from 2022, with three practice sessions across Friday and Saturday providing time to maximize the VF-23’s potential ahead of Saturday evening’s qualifying hour. Sunday’s 57-lap Bahrain Grand Prix will take place beneath the lights at 18:00 local time (GMT +3).
Guenther Steiner – Team Principal:
“I think it was the best pre-season test in Formula 1 ever, we didn’t see many red flags and for us it was preparation and running-wise. The guys got a lot of information and this year’s car is an evolution from last year, it’s not a completely new car so you can learn a lot quicker because you know already what you’ll think you encounter. On the mechanical side, it takes a lot less time to make changes because we know the car – last year everything was new.
“Nico has fitted in very well like he’s been here a long time, and the team is excited to be working with him. It’s the experience we wanted, and I think we’ve got it.
“If you ask me where anybody in the midfield is, I couldn’t tell you. I think this year some cars will be better on certain tracks, while others will be better elsewhere because it’s so close together – I could be wrong but that’s how I look at it. You cannot base your performance on other people failing, you won’t get successful with that approach.
“It’s been an incredible job by the entire team – both at track and at our three factories – to get us in the position we are heading into Bahrain and I hope this weekend we’ll have a result that reflects all that hard work.”
“I come into this season prepared physically first of all, and I feel way better than I did this time last year. It’s nice to hit the ground running and we had a good pre-season test where we’ve learned the things we wanted to learn.
“I didn’t see Nico much as we were splitting the days as when he’s been driving, I’ve been watching and then when I jumped into the car he’s been watching. He’s been giving good feedback and he’s been very consistent, having a good test as well, so it’s going to be good.
“It’s the usual suspects at the front but after that there is a big group of teams where it’s very difficult to see where you are. We know we’re in the mix and it’s a long season ahead, it’s a development race that’s going to happen. It feels that high-speed is very strong in this car and overall, it feels like a good car. It’s been a good job done by all the team and we’re ready for 2023.”
“It’s not like I’ve never been away but I’ve raced nearly all my life, this is what I’m trained to do and I think racing DNA is so engrained inside me, that when we start working I just know what to do, all the instincts kick-in. I’ve felt really good from the get-go and throughout the test, which I’m pleased about, and since I’ve been relaxing, training and analyzing all the data.
“The midfield has always been tight, and small things make a difference to whether you’re at the top end or bottom end and even a good day or bad day can have a huge impact. We just need to make sure we do our homework and here onwards develop our car efficiently and maximize what we have.
“I feel like I’ve settled in well, the team has welcomed me nicely – it already flows well. I’m more of a race guy than a testing guy so I’m looking forward to showtime where it matters and counts a bit more - I’m ready for attack mode.”