Even though your race result in Sochi was suboptimal, you had a good weekend with pace throughout practice and qualifying. Can the momentum and key learnings from Sochi be applied at Suzuka?
“Yes, I think so. I mean, we will keep working hard, keep trying to improve the car, learn as much as we can, and do the best job that we can. Suzuka is a great circuit and we’ve always been quite competitive there. I’m hoping it’ll be the same again this year.”
How helpful was the team’s speed in Sochi for company morale, where the effort that’s been put forth throughout the summer finally paid some dividends?
“It was great that we were competitive all weekend. The car felt good from FP1, which usually gives you a clear representation. Obviously, it was then painful to watch the race from hospitality, but it was really good to see that Kevin was managing to keep some fast cars behind with good pace. It was good.”
You’ve been quoted as saying that Suzuka is your most favorite track in the world. Why?
“It’s probably in the nature of the circuit. It’s high speed – there’s no room for mistakes – which is becoming more and more rare nowadays with the new circuits. There’s elevation to go with that speed, and it’s just a different shape from all the other tracks being a figure-eight with the bridge and the tunnel.”
Beyond the racetrack, what is most often talked about at Suzuka is the passion its fans have. Can you describe the atmosphere at the track and the fervency Japanese fans have for Formula One?
“Japanese fans absolutely love Formula One. It’s probably one of the only races on the calendar where you see the grandstands full from Thursday onward. Their passion for Formula One is huge, and they have a huge respect for it. It’s very special to see. You can tell it’s a big event when we go there.”
When you leave Japan you’ll be gearing up for Haas F1 Team’s home race – the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas. Where do you want Haas F1 Team to be heading into that event?
“It’s going to be good. It’s always a race we’re looking forward to. Obviously, it’s a busy week in Austin with a lot to do, but it’s always a good weekend. Let’s hope the car is competitive there. We haven’t been very successful in Austin in recent years, but I’m hoping that this year it’s going to be better and that we can have a good race. We want to show the fans we can do the job.”