Nico Hulkenberg concedes that Haas didn’t receive the instant “boom” the team needed from its recent Formula 1 upgrades to return to regularly scoring points this year.

Having admitted it had hit a development ceiling with its previous car concept, Haas finally became the final team to convert to the downwash sidepod solution in Austin.

While the updates appeared to have eased the degradation issues that have stymied its campaign, the American squad have continued to struggle for competitiveness.

Haas dropped to the bottom of the Constructors’ Championship last time out in Austin, which Hulkenberg issued should provide a “wake-up” call to the entire team.

Asked about those comments ahead of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix this weekend, Hulkenberg said: “Wake-up call? I think obviously we had Austin, which was a Sprint weekend, was difficult. Mexico is always very specific and special with the altitude.

“But I think… we’ve seen now that the upgrade is not ‘boom’, like a big step up in performance and that we’re suddenly solid within the points-scoring positions. That didn’t happen.

“It might’ve given us some clues and directions for the future, but we still needed some instant performance right here, right now, and I think that unfortunately didn’t happen.”

Although Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner has insisted the side is back on the “right track”, Hulkenberg says confirmation of progress will only be cemented in 2024.

“Yeah, I think obviously that’s TBC, that we have to demonstrate now, the factory guys, the designers and aero guys, that they understand that and have a grip on this, to give a more competitive package,” he added.

Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Haas VF-23. 27.10.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 20, Mexican Grand Prix, Mexico City, Mexico, Practice Day.

The interruption of the Sprint format for the sixth and final time this season will further hamper Haas’ endeavours to extract more from its updated VF-23 charger in Brazil.

Hulkenberg accepts that the Kannapolis-based squad could elect to withdraw both cars to the pitlane on Sunday for the second time in three races in order to escape the restraints imposed by parc ferme conditions.

“I think… maybe [there’s a possibility]! There’s a little window or a little trend, because the little practice time, Austin for us was a very special case with the update obviously and so many things at once, that you can’t do so many things at once,” Hulkenberg explained. “But, yeah, it’s a scenario, yeah.”

Questioned if he would object to sacrificing his grid position to optimise the set-up, Hulkenberg answered: “It always depends where you start from, obviously, where you qualify tomorrow! It’s not just a straight answer, it depends on more than one factor.”

Hulkenberg previously took advantage of mixed weather conditions at Interlagos back in 2010 to bag his maiden F1 pole position in his rookie campaign with Williams.

But Hulkenberg, who made his 200th grand prix outing in Mexico, contends that Haas must rely on improving its performance and not precipitation to improve its fortunes.

“Maybe a bit [of rain] for tomorrow but then Saturday and Sunday it’s bone dry,” he said regarding the weather forecast.

“I don’t hope for anything. We need performance, that’s what we need, that’s the only thing that can help us.”

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