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?
“Ferrari’s been a really good help for us. From day one we didn’t have to bother about things like the power unit, or suspension or gearbox – a lot of parts that would’ve taken us a long time to build and to get right. So, that has been incredible. Being able to use them every year, and use the new generation every year, it just means that the car is getting better and better.”
How crucial was Dallara and Ferrari 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, and this year with an evolution of the 2017 car thanks to rules stability?
“It’s the same thing with Dallara. They’ve been a great partner of the team and a great help to get everything working. It was a challenge for them as well. They didn’t know the exact demands of Formula One initially, but we grew up together.”
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? (Note: It rained during last year’s qualifying session, thwarting any attempt at a new track record.)
“I don’t know. It will be interesting. It would be nice to try and beat that record, as it’s an old one. It would be nice to get that one. Saying that, the curbs were a bit different, and the chicane was fast at the time. We’ll see.”
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?
“Yes, pretty much. It’s about top speed and getting out of the corner, and the low speed is quite good as well, with the dirty air of the car in front of you.”
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.”