What are your expectations for Hungary? Does the tighter track pose more of a challenge for Rich Energy Haas F1 Team or can it benefit the Haas VF-19?
“We don’t really know how it’s going to go. We take everything race-by-race at the moment. For now, we’re in an experimental time as the car has been quite tricky to understand. At some tracks where we thought we’d do well, we did not, and other tracks where we thought it was going to be a bit more tricky, things actually worked better. So, let’s just go race-by-race. Hungary is one of my favorite races of the year. I love the fans there, I love the circuit, the atmosphere, and it’s always the summer. It’s right before our summer break, so you know you can really go flat-out then recharge your batteries. I’m looking forward to going there.”
A lot of grip, a lot of braking and a lot of high-energy demands all conspire against tires at the Hungaroring. What do you need to do to manage the tires and get the most out of them?
“They don’t get much rest in Budapest, that’s for sure. There aren’t many high-speed corners, which doesn’t put too much energy into them, but there’s no rest either, and temperatures can be really high. It’s a good challenge on tires, and getting them to work nicely in the window.”
You’re constantly turning the wheel at the Hungaroring and with the slower speeds, very little air flows into the car. Combined with the normally high temperatures experienced in Budapest, how physically demanding is the Hungarian Grand Prix?
“It’s a tough grand prix because of the heat and a lack of straight lines. There’s a lot of action behind the steering wheel. The g-forces aren’t as high as they can be at some other places, but it’s a tough grand prix. I like the challenge.”
In seven career Formula One starts at the Hungaroring you’ve finished in the top-10 four times, with a best finish of third in your first race there in 2012. What makes it such a good track for you?
“I’ve always enjoyed the Hungaroring. I was on the front row in 2012 also, my best grid start ever. Obviously, in Formula One you rely a lot on the car, so I guess I must’ve had some good cars there. I also scored my first pole position in GP2 there in 2008. I’ve always had a good feeling there, and I’ve always enjoyed driving there.”
Considering the amount of work the team has put into sorting the Haas VF-19s finicky nature, how important is the shutdown for Rich Energy Haas F1 Team personnel to take a break and come back refreshed for the final nine races of the season?
“I think for everyone it’s important. It doesn’t matter if you’re leading or fighting, it’s draining. We’ve been racing now for four months, every other week, so everyone needs a bit of a rest. Summer break is always welcomed for that. We know the second part of the season is not any less tiring. There’s a lot of travel, which is great, but there’s a lot of jetlag and fatigue that goes with that.”
What will you do for your own well-being and self-preservation during the summer shutdown?
“I spend some good time with my family, especially with my kids and my wife. I’ll probably go cycling – too much as my wife would say, not enough I would say. I’ll do a bit of kite surfing, because we’ve decided to go on vacation where there’s some wind.”
Work continues on the 2019 car and directions are being determined for the 2020 car, but an overview of regulations for the 2021 car has been revealed. What are your thoughts on the 2021 car, which features a new ground effect design that includes a much simpler front wing?
“As drivers, we want better racing. We want to be able to follow another car, to be closer. I think those rules are going in a good direction. We’re hoping Pirelli can help us also with the tires. We hope that 2021 will be a good turn made by Formula One.”