In just its third year, Haas F1 Team is consistently fighting for best-of-rest status behind Scuderia Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull. Considering the history and resources available to other midfield teams, what does this achievement say about Haas F1 Team and its potential?
“The potential of the team is big. That’s what I’ve been saying for a long time. This year, we’ve shown that we’re capable of being fast at most of the tracks, and it’s been really promising. It’s good news and it’s been a good effort from everyone on the team. Barcelona, Paul Ricard, Red Bull Ring, Silverstone – they’re all places where we’ve been really strong at different types of circuits. The team has made a lot of progress. The potential has been there since day one. We’re ready for more.”
If you were told back at preseason testing in Barcelona that Haas F1 Team would enter the halfway mark of the season fifth in the constructors’ standings, what would’ve been your reaction?
“After the first day in the car, I knew that was possible.”
Now that Haas F1 Team is fifth in the constructors’ standings, what is possible for the second half of this season?
“We can do even better. We can still improve. If you look at the standings, I don’t have many points at the moment, but we will work even harder to make sure we don’t have any more issues. I think we can aim for the fourth position.”
Can the pace and performance you had in France, Austria and England continue in Germany, or will the Hockenheimring’s array of tight corners prove slightly troublesome?
“We’ll see. I think we’ve made some good progress understanding the car at low speed. I’m hopeful we’re going to be alright.”
Haas F1 Team introduced significant upgrades to the Haas VF-18 in Canada, and while you felt there was promise after competing in the Canadian Grand Prix, it wasn’t really seen until we got to the power circuits of Paul Ricard, the Red Bull Ring and Silverstone. What makes the Haas VF-18 better at those tracks compared to tracks that are more compact with tight corners?
“We’ve been good everywhere, except Monaco, to be fair. The latest upgrade we had is a really good step forward. It makes the car better in low speed, as well. I think high speed we’ve got a really good balance. It’s a really consistent car with good downforce. In low speed, we know we can improve a little bit more, we know where, but the car is not bad either. I think we could actually be alright in Germany and in Hungary.”
You’re at full throttle for a little more than half of every lap at the Hockenheimring. How do you go about managing fuel without sacrificing track position?
“To be fair, I haven’t looked at the numbers. I don’t know if we need to do fuel saving or not with the downforce we’ll be running. We’ll find out on Friday.”
You’ve competed at the Hockenheimring and the Nurburgring. Do you like one over the other, or do they both have characteristics you enjoy?
“I actually like both. I’ve got some good memories from Hockenheim and the Nurburgring. I probably prefer the Nurburgring as a track, but I became European F3 champion at Hockenheim back in 2007, so naturally I like the place as well.”
How has the Hockenheimring changed since your junior career, and are those memories rekindled when you return for Formula One?
“It actually hasn’t changed at all since those days. It’s always great to visit somewhere with good memories. I won at the circuit in Formula 3, and in Formula Renault 1.6. I won there in the GP2 Series until a post-race penalty dropped me to second. Every year is different, though. It doesn’t matter what happened in the past. The important thing is to make it count now.”
What is your favorite part of the Hockenheimring?
“The entry into the stadium section is definitely my favorite part of the Hockenheimring. It’s amazing. You’re coming in from really fast corners, then you just turn into a very narrow section of the track. It’s fun.”
Describe a lap around the Hockenheimring.
“After the start-finish line, the first corner is the most exciting one. It’s a very high-speed, right-hand side corner. Normally you brake just a little bit, just one gear downshift, and then you’re on a straight line. Turn two with tricky braking and certainly very tricky throttle application. You’re turning from right to left to go on the main straight. You really want to go on the power as early as you can to get a good straight line. Big braking for the hairpin next. Coming back to the Mercedes corner, a right-hand side corner flat out, then braking to the 110 degree left-hand side corner. Again, there’s a challenging throttle application there as you’re turning right straight after, just about flat. Then entering the stadium, there’s a bit of braking to the right-hand side, very high-speed corner. The Sachskurve is a very high-banked corner, left hairpin. It’s quite open, though, with a few lines through it. Then you go to the last couple of corners – they’re quite famous. You try to carry as much speed as you can to the first one, and go as flat as you can for the second one to get a good lap time.”