How has the technical partnership with Ferrari been and how has it evolved as Haas F1 Team went from designing a car to building it first racecar to building the current-generation car which featured a drastically different rules package?
The relationship with Ferrari is very good. We owe them quite a lot, to be able to be on the grid and performing with a good engine, gearbox, and suspension – all those parts come from Ferrari. That means a lot to us, and clearly going to the Italian Grand Prix we’re going to feel some of that fan support for ourselves, which is great.
How crucial has Dallara and Ferrari been in allowing Haas F1 Team to be competitive in not only its first year, but its second year when another new car needed to be built?
It’s key to us to have Ferrari and Dallara behind us. Without them it would’ve been very difficult for us to be on the grid the first year and to be competitive, and again this year. We have a lot of Italian in our DNA.
Monza is the fastest track Formula One visits. What are your expectations this year with the current-generation car?
I think it’ll be pretty good. It may be one of the circuits where we don’t improve the lap time that much compared to the past. It’s going to be fun though, with big straight lines and a lot of low downforce. The Lesmo corner and the Ascari chicane – they’re great fun.
A 1:19.525 lap set by Juan Pablo Montoya during practice for the 2004 Italian Grand Prix is widely regarded as the fastest Formula One lap of all time, as his average speed was 262.242 kph (162.950 mph). Will that time be eclipsed this year at Monza and a new benchmark for speed set?
It would be nice. We love going fast, so I’m looking forward to see if we can go for it.
Where are the overtaking opportunities at Monza?
The good thing with Monza is there’s lots of overtaking opportunities. There’s turn one, three, eight and then the Parabolica. It’s more or less every single braking event.
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?
I think qualifying’s going to be key to finding the right tow. The race is always fun to play with the tow and having some fun overtaking maneuvers. We’ll see where we are and how well we get the car to work. There aren’t that many corners so it’s very hard to get the tires to work properly, but we’ll be on it.
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 there?
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.