Haas F1 Team will run its latest aero spec at Sochi, which is a blend of old and new. Can you explain how the run of car-to-car comparisons over the summer allowed you to get a better understanding of what has been affecting the performance of the Haas VF-19 so that, ideally, you have an improved showing in Sochi?
“We’ve brought updates during the year on the car, and those updates haven’t really been working as expected. So, we’re really trying to understand where the correlation from the wind tunnel to the track is. That’s why we’re going to try a different setup, a different aero package on the car, and see if we can actually get a clear understanding and prepare as good as we can for 2020.”
While these car-to-car comparisons Haas F1 Team has run in past grands prix are unconventional, it has provided data in real-world conditions. Has this at least helped paint a more accurate picture of why the cars are performing the way they are as opposed to an open test where you can only simulate race conditions?
“Yes, it’s been really good to compare cars in those conditions. The feeling was very much in line with what we’ve seen. So, that has been really good to be able to do.”
With Haas F1 Team being one of the smaller teams in Formula One, does this also allow the team to be more nimble and more open to trying things in an effort to improve itself? More specifically, could a big team have tried as many things as Haas F1 Team did in the same period of time or would bureaucracy have gotten in the way?
“No, I think generally in Formula One, the bigger you are the more power you’ve got, the more resources you’ve got. It’s great that we can try a few things and, obviously, maybe the decision goes faster, but we’re still a fairly young, small team in comparison to others. Obviously, when we have an issue, because we have less people, it just takes a bit longer to understand and analyze. We’ve seen with Mercedes earlier in the year how quickly they could react to a car that wasn’t well born at the first winter test, then they were super competitive in Melbourne.”
Haas F1 Team recently announced that it would retain its driver lineup for 2020. You’ve been with the organization since its debut in 2016 and have had a large hand in its success. When the team as a whole faces the kind of adversity it has this year, is it satisfying to be able to continue to work to find a solution and, ideally, see those efforts pay off next year when you’re back in a racecar that was designed with your feedback?
“I started my story with Haas back in 2016. I’ve been there since day one. Obviously, this year’s been a rough year – probably our toughest one since the beginning. It’s good that we stick together. We work hard and we try and find the solutions for 2020. I’m really hoping that next year we get a good car, have a great season and leave 2019 behind us.”
Your feedback will again prove valuable this weekend at Sochi as this hybrid aero spec is utilized throughout the race weekend. What do you need to feel in the racecar to best take advantage of the track’s characteristics?
“We need to understand why the new package wasn’t giving us the rear downforce that we want and expect. Sochi is a difficult circuit to generate tire temperature. If we get the rear downforce, then we should be able to generate the temperatures. Also, the consistency through the corner on a low-grip circuit is very important. If we get to that point, where we get the consistency from the chassis and the aerodynamics and the downforce to generate the grip with the tires, that’s what you want to get in Sochi. That’s what we’re going to try to do.”