Haas has become the first Formula 1 team to unveil its initial car design for the 2024 season - but it's done so with a pessimistic prediction.
The American outfit, which for the first time heads into a season without long-serving team boss Guenther Steiner at the helm, has gone for a subtle evolution to the black-and-white livery design that had run in 2023.
The VF-24 will use more black colouring - with this particularly notable in the nosecone area and at the top of the sidepods.
A large USA flag is placed on the nosecone, reflecting the team's American identity. Haas was effectively confirmed as the sole USA operation on the grid for the foreseeable future following F1's rejection earlier this week of Michael Andretti's bid to enter the championship.
The VF-24 will run for the first time in a Silverstone shakedown on February 11.
The renders show that the car's actual mechanical design features a pushrod front suspension and pullrod rear suspension - as had already been the case in 2023 - and a front wing and highly-ramped sidepod profile clearly continuing in the vein of the big upgrade to the predecessor VF-23 that Haas had brought to last October's United States Grand Prix.
New team boss Ayao Komatsu, who has replaced the deposed Steiner, described that Austin-spec VF-23 as a "preview" for this car, but said the VF-24 is a more-realised version of the concept as it had not been constrained by the "physical limitation" of the initial VF-23 design.
On the back foot
But the Austin upgrade was hardly transformative to Haas's 2023 fortunes - and even in the announcement itself of the VF-24 Komatsu warns that the launch-spec of the car isn't where Haas wants it to be.
"Out of the gates in Bahrain, I still think we’re going to be towards the back of the grid, if not last," says Komatsu in a frank admission.
And the existence of the US GP 2023 spec is key to that.
Komatsu says creating that spec was a "pretty useful" exercise to better understand the problems of the VF-23 and in particular what's been causing its trademark horribly fading race pace - but he also admits "doing the Austin package means the VF-24 launch car may not be as advanced as it could be".
"During the time it took to make the Austin-spec car, we had to stop resources to the VF-24 for two months, and that’s performance we could’ve found there," he says.
"The team is recovering well, but you have to be realistic because our competitors are smart and they’re finding performance as well.
"At least we should have a better base in the VF-24."
New tech director and structure
It wasn't just Steiner who left Haas on the eve of the new season - so had tech director Simone Resta, brought in via Haas's engine and parts supplier Ferrari.
And just like with Steiner being replaced by Komatsu, there will be no outside hire to take Resta's spot.
Instead, as had been expected, another former Ferrari man Andrea De Zordo - the team's chief designer since 2021 - will take over.
"His communication is good, he’s very engaged and he listens to people, so I’m very happy about that appointment," says Komatsu.
Haas will look to fill De Zordo's previous role internally, he adds.
In the meantime, it has also established a new position of performance director - but this has likewise been filled internally, by ex-Ferrari engineer Damien Brayshaw, who is promoted from head of vehicle performance.
"He will oversee and drive the direction for the upgrades together with the aero department and all the other functions that analyse the full-scale car," says Komatsu.