Romain, Ferrari and Dallara are two Italian companies that are technical partners of Haas F1 Team. How has their collective insight helped make Haas F1 Team so competitive in its first year in Formula One?
It was vital. The whole idea of creating Haas F1 Team was based on the partnership with Ferrari and Dallara. We worked to have good cars and to perform as early as the first test. To do that, we had to get that partnership to work, which it did. I’m looking forward to being in Italy knowing the strength of those companies in our on-track efforts.
Monza is the fastest track Formula One visits. What allows you to reach such high speeds at Monza?
It’s the characteristics of the track, primarily a long straight line with a chicane followed by another long straight line. Everyone goes for low downforce levels. That’s where we go fast in a straight line. It’s a great track – a temple of speed. There’s always a great atmosphere around the circuit. I’m very much looking forward to racing there again.
Where are the overtaking opportunities at Monza?
More or less everywhere.
Is overtaking at Monza a bit like a drag race where it’s about who can get on the power the fastest and most effectively?
It’s not as straightforward as a drag race. You still lose downforce when you follow another car out of the low-speed corners. It’s one of those races where you can have a lot of overtaking, a lot of action. It’s always interesting to see how it plays out with the big slipstreams.
Monza is a track with a lot of history and home to some of Formula One’s most passionate fans. Can you describe the atmosphere there?
The atmosphere is crazy in Monza. The Tifosi, the fans – they’re just great. The track is in the middle of a park. It’s like nowhere else. There are so many people coming and watching, cheering for the drivers and, of course, for Ferrari. The atmosphere is electric. I love it.
Have you had the opportunity to walk around the old portions of Monza, specifically the oval? If so, what ran through your mind when you saw the banking and realized cars in the late 1950s and early 1960s actually raced wheel-to-wheel on that track?
It was crazy! You can barely stand up at the top of the oval. We still go underneath part of it at the Ascari chicane. It was definitely a different time, a different era of safety measures. I’m sure it was good fun, though.
Would you have liked to have competed in that era just to see what it was like, or do you prefer to compete with the latest and greatest technology available?
I’d compete anytime. I’ve always loved Formula One racing, no matter the era.
Do you have any milestones or moments from your junior career that you enjoyed at Monza?
My first race in Formula Renault 2.0 in 2004 – the Eurocup Series – was at Monza, and I was on the front row after qualifying. That was quite good. Certainly a happy memory.
What is your favorite part of Monza?
I like the two Lesmos turns, the ‘Curva di Lesmos’.
Describe a lap around Monza.
You cross the start-finish line going into the first chicane with big braking, dropping down to second gear. Then you’ve got important acceleration going into the second chicane, which is a bit faster, a bit more curb usage on the exit. You then try and carry as much speed through the two Lesmos turns. Then you go under the old oval and into the Ascari chicane. There’s big braking here, with a bump. It’s always tricky to get the car there. Then you really want to go early on power to get to the Parabolica. There’s another very long straight line, with very late braking to the Parabolica. Again, tricky throttle application heading toward the start-finish line to set your lap.