Typhoon Hagibis altered the Japanese race weekend schedule, where for only the fifth time in Formula One history, qualifying was held on the same day as the race. How did this change your preparation for the race and what effect did it have on team personnel as they had a jam-packed Sunday readying cars for qualifying and the race?
“I actually enjoyed it quite a lot. Having qualifying and the race on the same day – yes it was a busy Sunday, but it was pretty cool. For me, it was quite a good Sunday. I enjoyed the schedule. I thought it was cool. For the crew, though, it was hard work having to jump from qualifying debrief straight into the race.”
You achieved a degree of social media notoriety for making a model of the six-wheeled Tyrrell P34 in your hotel room on Saturday in Japan as track activities were canceled due to Typhoon Hagibis. What is the appeal in model cars and that one in particular, and were you surprised at how much attention your build generated? Will you take up Jody Scheckter’s offer to go visit the original?
“Yes, I’ll contact Jody and see if I can visit the original. It’s obviously a very special car with its history, and unique looking with its six wheels – not something you see often in Formula One. I made the model to pass some time on Saturday. We knew it was going to be a long, rainy day. I was a bit surprised as to how many people liked the idea. I’ve been building models for a long time. I’ve built a few Formula One models, some LMP1, Super GT, rally cars. I think it’s a nice way to spend some time and it gets your brain somewhere else. I enjoyed the day building it.”
Mexico City’s notoriously high altitude means very low air density, and combined with Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez’s equally notorious slick surface, does the Mexican Grand Prix pose an even greater challenge to Haas F1 Team to get the Pirelli tires into their proper operating window and also keep the tires in that window? If so, what kind of adjustments can you make in your driving style to try and minimize this issue?
“Mexico’s been a tough one for us since our first year back in 2016. We’re just going to keep working on it and keep trying to improve our results there. It’s going to be a challenge. Obviously, the altitude is the same for everyone, but it looks like it’s impacted us quite a fair bit in the past. Maybe this year we’ll have a better understanding and we can get everything to work. Let’s see where we can go. We know it’s going to be a challenge. It’s always been our hardest track, but we’re ready for that challenge. Anything we can learn, we’ll take it.”
The Mexican Grand Prix is back-to-back with the following weekend’s United States Grand Prix. What will you do with the time in between the two races? More specifically, are there certain parts of the United States you’re able to explore before arriving in Austin, Texas?
“I’m going to go to Miami. I’ve never been there before. I’m looking to do some kite surfing. It’s no secret that it’s a passion of mine. Hopefully, there’s some wind and, if not, we’ll go surfing instead and enjoy a bit of Miami before heading to Austin.”