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JULY 30th 2017 – HUNGARY GRAND PRIX

2017/07/30 13:00:00

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Interview – Ahead of Hungary Grand Prix

25 July 2017
We’re halfway through the season and halfway through Haas F1 Team’s sophomore year. Can you provide an assessment of what the team has achieved so far and what you’d like to accomplish the rest of the year? “It’s never easy to look back when you’re in the middle of a season at what we’ve achieved. I think the results are speaking for themselves. We’ve already scored as many points as we did in our first season and we’ve been very competitive at a lot of different tracks. We’ve been in Q3 a bunch of times. It’s a big step from last year, but there’s still more that we want to do. As Gene (Haas) would say, there’s no bad team in Formula One. It’s just a constant fight to get better than the others.” We go from Silverstone – one of the fastest and most flowing circuits in Formula One – to the Hungaroring, which is one of the slowest circuits and also very technical. Does it take a few laps to forget about what you felt in the car at Silverstone, or are you able to just jump into the car and immediately get up to speed, despite the Hungaroring’s drastically different layout? “You do get back in the car and find the pace straight away. I’ve been competing in Formula One for a few seasons and I know all the circuits and all the characteristics of each layout. It’s not a big deal. I jump in the car and find my rhythm. From there, you can start a good weekend.” While the Hungaroring is known as a slower racetrack because of its tight layout, is that set to change this year because of the speeds you’re able to achieve with these faster, current-generation cars? “Yes, probably. It could be a pretty big change from the past. Sector two is going to be flowing and flying. The last two corners are going to be much faster than they were before. I believe the layout, and the way the race will play out will be different. Saying that, overtaking could be a bit of a tough one.” Will the faster speeds change how you attack certain portions of the Hungaroring? “You always have to forget what you’re used to from previous years. Now everything is different and the cars are much faster. So yes, you do change your approach. Having done 10 races with the 2017 car, we know where the limits are.” The Hungaroring is a tight circuit with a lot of corners, which means a lot of braking. You tried new Brembo brakes in practice and new Carbon Industrie (CI) brakes in qualifying and the race at Silverstone. Did it provide the comparison you were looking for? “Honestly, yes. It’s never easy to change brakes on a race weekend because it changes much more than just the brakes with things like mapping and adjusting the setup. I think we got some good results from the CI package. Whatever

Interview – Before Great Britain GP

12 July 2017
Silverstone is one of the fastest tracks in Formula One, but it’s not necessarily from long straights but rather from long, flowing corners. Can you describe the feeling of speed you experience at this power circuit? “It’s a really cool track, especially the fast part through Maggotts, Becketts and Chapel corners. When you have the grip in the car there, you really get the sensation of the g-forces. Everything’s pushing down. You really want to get the first part of the flowing corners right. If you don’t, you just lose a lot of time. When the car is very stable and has good balance, you can go flat out and really push it to the limit.” Knowing how fast these current-generation cars are, what are your expectations in terms of how the car will feel at Silverstone, particularly through the Maggots, Becketts and Chapel corners – an area of the track where you really feel the g-forces being exerted on your body? “I think it’s going to be one of the most exciting tracks of the year to drive. With the new cars, we’re really going to have a lot of downforce, a lot of g-forces through the high-speed corners – which were already really good with the previous cars. Now we’re going to get to another level and I’m looking forward to discovering that.” With speed playing such a role at Silverstone, how difficult is it to overtake? And if the opportunity presents itself, where can you overtake? “There are a few spots. On the straights and through the high-speed corners, you have an opportunity if your car is much better balanced than the car in front of you. After turn three or turn four, there’s the long section after the slow-speed corners, and that’s a good opportunity as well. But the thing about Silverstone is really the difference between a well-balanced car and an unbalanced car – that’s where the opportunity lies.” What do you need at Silverstone to have the proper balance in your racecar? “Silverstone is not an easy track. You’ve got all the high-speed sections, where you really want to carry some speed and get fast. Then you’ve got the twisty turns three and four, then the whole last corner, which is tricky on the throttle application. Generally, you need a good rear-end, and if you get that, you can then put some front-flap on and go faster.” Is Silverstone the track where you’re able to run at full throttle for the longest periods of time? “I think probably Baku we were flat out for longer periods of time, but Silverstone is a power track as well. You need good power to get a good lap time there. There are a few straight lines and a few overtaking opportunities but, mainly, Silverstone is about the grip of the car through the high-speed corners.” How do you find that edge to determine when you can be flat-out and when you can’t? “Well, you find out quickly

Interview – Before Austria Grand Prix

4 July 2017
The Azerbaijan Grand Prix was obviously a frustrating experience, but the silver lining in motorsports is that there is always another race weekend. How important is it to hit a reset button in Austria and have a productive, systematic weekend beginning with FP1 and continuing right through the race? “I think it’s important that we sort out our problems and get back to a decent level. I think there were some positives from Baku, as there always are. There were some negatives, of course, but I’m very much looking forward to going back to Austria. We’ll work on the things we can improve and I’m hoping for a better result. We had a good race there last year. I’m hoping the car works well and it should be a fun track to drive.” When drivers talk about finding the balance of the car, is it aero balance, mechanical balance, brake balance or a combination of all three? “It’s a combination of all three. You cannot take one apart. Aero and mechanical balance go together, and the brake balance fine-tunes the car. It’s very difficult to remove one. You work with your philosophy and you set up from there.” If one of those areas of balance is off, does it have a snowball effect with the rest of the car’s handling? How do you attempt to overcome it? “Yes, it’s definitely a snowball effect. When you lose, let’s say the aero balance, then you try to compensate with the brake balance going rearward, then the mechanical balance going rearward. Nothing is then putting load on the front tires and, therefore, you’ve got front-locking. It’s about finding the right balance, not putting too much on things, but finding the right compromise because you’re never going to get a full, perfect lap with the car balance.” Most drivers are creatures of habit, where a similar routine is followed no matter the venue. With Austria marking the beginning of a five-race European stretch that takes us all the way through August, how helpful is it to have some uniformity in that your changing room is the same, your hospitality unit is the same, your debriefing room is the same, etc., because all of our trucks will be at all of these races? “It’s good that we’ve got all of our own stuff with these races. We have very good equipment. Everything we have is nearly brand new. Not too much really changes on a race weekend though, even on the fly-aways.” You’re a family man and Geneva is home. How valuable is this stretch of races because the travel time to each venue is so much less intense, allowing you more days at home? “We’ve been traveling a lot. It’s good to be able to come to the European races. You can arrive at the track on Thursday morning and be home by dinner time on Sunday, which is good for my kids. It also allows us a bit more time to prepare our

Interview – Ahead of Azerbaijan GP

19 June 2017
We’re now a third of the way through Haas F1 Team’s second year. How would you assess the season and the team’s development to date? “It’s been a pretty good start. I think from last year we’ve made some big steps forward in all places. We’re more consistent. We’ve been able to score points more times than last year, which is good. There are still a lot of areas where we want to improve and we can improve. Generally, I’m very pleased with the way the team has been moving forward.” The Canadian Grand Prix was another example of how tight the midfield is this year, where teams are separated by just tenths of a second. Everyone is talking about the battle between Ferrari and Mercedes, but how would you characterize the midfield battle between Force India, Toro Rosso, Williams, Renault and Haas? “It’s actually very exciting. If you were removing the three big teams at the front and only leaving the midfield, there would be a different race winner almost every grand prix. The difference between pole position and P2 in Canada was much bigger than from P10 to around P17 or P18. That shows how tight it is in the midfield and how much we have to be getting 100 percent from the car every time.” With last year being the first race at Baku City Circuit, time in the simulator was the only way to prepare for the race. How did your time in the simulator compare with the reality of your first lap around the track? And if there was no simulator time, how did you prepare yourself to compete at an unknown venue? “Simulators are a great help, but it’s never going to be as good as driving the track for the first time. Especially when it’s a new grand prix, the track’s layout is never 100 percent correct in a simulator. I guess the best way is just to walk the track, see how it goes, then take it steady on the first few laps and build your pace from there.” Baku became the fastest street circuit in Formula One when it debuted last year and speeds have only increased this year. What do you expect with this newer, faster and wider car on a circuit that’s only a year old? “It’s going to be pretty exciting. I think some parts of the circuit are going to be very tight for the wider cars, but some other corners are going to be really nice to drive. Straight-line speed is going to be a bit down. I think it’s going to be a really cool track to drive with these cars – braking late and carrying a lot of speed in the corners, and playing around with some pretty fast corners through the walls.” Was there anything from last year’s race at Baku that’s applicable to this year’s race, or is it all out the window because the cars are so different? “I believe there’s

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Interview – Ahead of Hungary Grand Prix

25 July 2017
We’re halfway through the season and halfway through Haas F1 Team’s sophomore year. Can you provide an assessment of what the team has achieved so far and what you’d like to accomplish the rest of the year? “It’s never easy to look back when you’re in the middle of a season at what we’ve achieved. I think the results are speaking for themselves. We’ve already scored as many points as we did in our first season and we’ve been very competitive at a lot of different tracks. We’ve been in Q3 a bunch of times. It’s a big step from last year, but there’s still more that we want to do. As Gene (Haas) would say, there’s no bad team in Formula One. It’s just a constant fight to get better than the others.” We go from Silverstone – one of the fastest and most flowing circuits in Formula One – to the Hungaroring, which is one of the slowest circuits and also very technical. Does it take a few laps to forget about what you felt in the car at Silverstone, or are you able to just jump into the car and immediately get up to speed, despite the Hungaroring’s drastically different layout? “You do get back in the car and find the pace straight away. I’ve been competing in Formula One for a few seasons and I know all the circuits and all the characteristics of each layout. It’s not a big deal. I jump in the car and find my rhythm. From there, you can start a good weekend.” While the Hungaroring is known as a slower racetrack because of its tight layout, is that set to change this year because of the speeds you’re able to achieve with these faster, current-generation cars? “Yes, probably. It could be a pretty big change from the past. Sector two is going to be flowing and flying. The last two corners are going to be much faster than they were before. I believe the layout, and the way the race will play out will be different. Saying that, overtaking could be a bit of a tough one.” Will the faster speeds change how you attack certain portions of the Hungaroring? “You always have to forget what you’re used to from previous years. Now everything is different and the cars are much faster. So yes, you do change your approach. Having done 10 races with the 2017 car, we know where the limits are.” The Hungaroring is a tight circuit with a lot of corners, which means a lot of braking. You tried new Brembo brakes in practice and new Carbon Industrie (CI) brakes in qualifying and the race at Silverstone. Did it provide the comparison you were looking for? “Honestly, yes. It’s never easy to change brakes on a race weekend because it changes much more than just the brakes with things like mapping and adjusting the setup. I think we got some good results from the CI package. Whatever

Interview – Before Great Britain GP

12 July 2017
Silverstone is one of the fastest tracks in Formula One, but it’s not necessarily from long straights but rather from long, flowing corners. Can you describe the feeling of speed you experience at this power circuit? “It’s a really cool track, especially the fast part through Maggotts, Becketts and Chapel corners. When you have the grip in the car there, you really get the sensation of the g-forces. Everything’s pushing down. You really want to get the first part of the flowing corners right. If you don’t, you just lose a lot of time. When the car is very stable and has good balance, you can go flat out and really push it to the limit.” Knowing how fast these current-generation cars are, what are your expectations in terms of how the car will feel at Silverstone, particularly through the Maggots, Becketts and Chapel corners – an area of the track where you really feel the g-forces being exerted on your body? “I think it’s going to be one of the most exciting tracks of the year to drive. With the new cars, we’re really going to have a lot of downforce, a lot of g-forces through the high-speed corners – which were already really good with the previous cars. Now we’re going to get to another level and I’m looking forward to discovering that.” With speed playing such a role at Silverstone, how difficult is it to overtake? And if the opportunity presents itself, where can you overtake? “There are a few spots. On the straights and through the high-speed corners, you have an opportunity if your car is much better balanced than the car in front of you. After turn three or turn four, there’s the long section after the slow-speed corners, and that’s a good opportunity as well. But the thing about Silverstone is really the difference between a well-balanced car and an unbalanced car – that’s where the opportunity lies.” What do you need at Silverstone to have the proper balance in your racecar? “Silverstone is not an easy track. You’ve got all the high-speed sections, where you really want to carry some speed and get fast. Then you’ve got the twisty turns three and four, then the whole last corner, which is tricky on the throttle application. Generally, you need a good rear-end, and if you get that, you can then put some front-flap on and go faster.” Is Silverstone the track where you’re able to run at full throttle for the longest periods of time? “I think probably Baku we were flat out for longer periods of time, but Silverstone is a power track as well. You need good power to get a good lap time there. There are a few straight lines and a few overtaking opportunities but, mainly, Silverstone is about the grip of the car through the high-speed corners.” How do you find that edge to determine when you can be flat-out and when you can’t? “Well, you find out quickly

Interview – Before Austria Grand Prix

4 July 2017
The Azerbaijan Grand Prix was obviously a frustrating experience, but the silver lining in motorsports is that there is always another race weekend. How important is it to hit a reset button in Austria and have a productive, systematic weekend beginning with FP1 and continuing right through the race? “I think it’s important that we sort out our problems and get back to a decent level. I think there were some positives from Baku, as there always are. There were some negatives, of course, but I’m very much looking forward to going back to Austria. We’ll work on the things we can improve and I’m hoping for a better result. We had a good race there last year. I’m hoping the car works well and it should be a fun track to drive.” When drivers talk about finding the balance of the car, is it aero balance, mechanical balance, brake balance or a combination of all three? “It’s a combination of all three. You cannot take one apart. Aero and mechanical balance go together, and the brake balance fine-tunes the car. It’s very difficult to remove one. You work with your philosophy and you set up from there.” If one of those areas of balance is off, does it have a snowball effect with the rest of the car’s handling? How do you attempt to overcome it? “Yes, it’s definitely a snowball effect. When you lose, let’s say the aero balance, then you try to compensate with the brake balance going rearward, then the mechanical balance going rearward. Nothing is then putting load on the front tires and, therefore, you’ve got front-locking. It’s about finding the right balance, not putting too much on things, but finding the right compromise because you’re never going to get a full, perfect lap with the car balance.” Most drivers are creatures of habit, where a similar routine is followed no matter the venue. With Austria marking the beginning of a five-race European stretch that takes us all the way through August, how helpful is it to have some uniformity in that your changing room is the same, your hospitality unit is the same, your debriefing room is the same, etc., because all of our trucks will be at all of these races? “It’s good that we’ve got all of our own stuff with these races. We have very good equipment. Everything we have is nearly brand new. Not too much really changes on a race weekend though, even on the fly-aways.” You’re a family man and Geneva is home. How valuable is this stretch of races because the travel time to each venue is so much less intense, allowing you more days at home? “We’ve been traveling a lot. It’s good to be able to come to the European races. You can arrive at the track on Thursday morning and be home by dinner time on Sunday, which is good for my kids. It also allows us a bit more time to prepare our

Interview – Ahead of Azerbaijan GP

19 June 2017
We’re now a third of the way through Haas F1 Team’s second year. How would you assess the season and the team’s development to date? “It’s been a pretty good start. I think from last year we’ve made some big steps forward in all places. We’re more consistent. We’ve been able to score points more times than last year, which is good. There are still a lot of areas where we want to improve and we can improve. Generally, I’m very pleased with the way the team has been moving forward.” The Canadian Grand Prix was another example of how tight the midfield is this year, where teams are separated by just tenths of a second. Everyone is talking about the battle between Ferrari and Mercedes, but how would you characterize the midfield battle between Force India, Toro Rosso, Williams, Renault and Haas? “It’s actually very exciting. If you were removing the three big teams at the front and only leaving the midfield, there would be a different race winner almost every grand prix. The difference between pole position and P2 in Canada was much bigger than from P10 to around P17 or P18. That shows how tight it is in the midfield and how much we have to be getting 100 percent from the car every time.” With last year being the first race at Baku City Circuit, time in the simulator was the only way to prepare for the race. How did your time in the simulator compare with the reality of your first lap around the track? And if there was no simulator time, how did you prepare yourself to compete at an unknown venue? “Simulators are a great help, but it’s never going to be as good as driving the track for the first time. Especially when it’s a new grand prix, the track’s layout is never 100 percent correct in a simulator. I guess the best way is just to walk the track, see how it goes, then take it steady on the first few laps and build your pace from there.” Baku became the fastest street circuit in Formula One when it debuted last year and speeds have only increased this year. What do you expect with this newer, faster and wider car on a circuit that’s only a year old? “It’s going to be pretty exciting. I think some parts of the circuit are going to be very tight for the wider cars, but some other corners are going to be really nice to drive. Straight-line speed is going to be a bit down. I think it’s going to be a really cool track to drive with these cars – braking late and carrying a lot of speed in the corners, and playing around with some pretty fast corners through the walls.” Was there anything from last year’s race at Baku that’s applicable to this year’s race, or is it all out the window because the cars are so different? “I believe there’s

After Canada Grand Prix

12 June 2017
Well, our race started very badly with the front wing change on the first lap. Then we knew the only way to get a decent strategy was to stay out and make those tires last for 69 laps, which is pretty good for supersofts. We got there. I am very unhappy with Carlos’ (Sainz) maneuver at the start – what he did to me going into turn three. It was very, very dangerous. I’m glad the car didn’t have too much damage. We changed the front wing and got going again. It was a tough race. We needed a bit of luck at the end, which we got with Alonso retiring, and we managed to get a point. It’s great for the team, but we missed a bit of speed today.

Interview – Ahead of Canada GP

6 June 2017
Monaco marked Haas F1 Team’s first double points finish in its still young history. Guenther Steiner mentioned how this wasn’t some sort of magic, that the team has been working toward this for some time. Can you talk about the progress the team has made since its inception to now regularly having a shot at getting both drivers into the points? “Last year we started very well, then we struggled a little bit more as we were preparing for 2017. The car is very good. We’ve had a lot of chances to get into the points. We haven’t always had the luck we needed but, eventually, Monaco came. It was not maybe the place we expected to get both cars into the top-10, but we did it, and it shows that the team is now capable of finding the right setup, the right strategy and going for it. It was a big achievement. I think it’s as big as our first Q3 appearance, or our first points, and I’m very happy with that.”   When you have a good result, how long are you able to enjoy it before you’re forced to turn your attention to the next race? “Well, I normally take Monday off. It’s the day I’m either going to enjoy or be in a bad mood, depending on the race. After that I’m already focused on the next race. We have a chat with the engineers, we have a conference call on Thursday, and we’re already working flat out on the next race.”   How hard is it to get into the top-10 when six of those spots should theoretically be reserved for the top-three teams – Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull? You have to fight with six other teams and 12 other drivers for four spots. “It’s pretty hard to get there. There are races where, like in Barcelona, there were a lot of cars crashing out like a Mercedes, a Ferrari, a Williams, which makes it easier, but we didn’t manage to get as high as we wanted. In Monaco, there was nothing happening at the front. It was really difficult to follow the guys. For the smaller teams, as we are in the midfield, it’s pretty tricky as there aren’t many spots to go for.”   Despite running the softest tire compounds in Pirelli’s lineup for a second straight week, drivers are saying the tires aren’t soft enough. Ideally, what are you looking for in a tire? It is more grip, a sidewall that’s not as stiff or a combination of both? “It’s more grip. During the last race I did 40 laps on the ultrasoft, which is really more of a qualifying tire. It should be able to do some amount of laps, but not as much as that. We’re asking to get tires with a better warm-up, be better after the Safety Car and to go faster. We believe that the cars are able to go faster.”   Another element of the

Interview – Ahead of Monaco GP

22 May 2017
Monaco in Formula One is like the Indianapolis 500 in INDYCAR and the Daytona 500 in NASCAR. Obviously, Monaco is special, but what is the Monaco Grand Prix like for you? Monaco is special to me because it’s kind of my home race. We’re beside France and there’s always a lot of people, a lot of fans. It is, of course, special because of all the glamour because it is Monaco. Everyone knows Monaco and everyone wants to be in Monaco. It’s a very challenging track and a very long weekend with lots of demands, but at the end of the day it’s a very nice show. You mentioned how Monaco is sort of a home race for you. Is your family able to join you? Are you able to enjoy the area on Friday when there is no on-track running? I’ll have my wife and my Dad coming to Monaco, which is going to be great. Of course, there’s going to be a lot of French fans at the grand prix, which is really cool. I’m really looking forward to that. Monaco’s a special one as we don’t drive on the Friday. It’s an ‘off’ day on track, but I’ve got at least one meeting with the engineers, an autograph session and a fan forum appearance. It’s pretty busy even though you’re not running. You’ll have an actual home race next year with the return of the French Grand Prix. How important will that race be to you and what experience do you have at Circuit Paul Ricard? I don’t have that much experience at Paul Ricard. I raced there in GT1 and did the old GP2 tests, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually raced a single-seater there. Having a home grand prix is something special. Everyone’s very excited about it and I can’t wait to go there and see what it’s like. Much will be made of Fernando Alonso’s drive in the Indianapolis 500. What do you think of it and how much of the Indianapolis 500 will you be able to watch? It’s pretty amazing and he’s doing well in the testing. It’s a really good race. It’s a nice one, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to watch. I’ll have a look at the highlights. Jumping into Alonso’s car for the Monaco Grand Prix is Jenson Button. From what you’ve seen so far this year, what adjustments will he have to make to drive this year’s car compared to last year’s car? First thing he has to do is get used to the width of the car, especially in Monaco. Jenson is a great champion. He’s been world champion and he knows what he’s doing. He’s going to be on it pretty quickly. If we can take advantage of the fact that he’s not got much experience in the car at the beginning, we’ll use that for our own performance, but I’m sure he’s going to be good straight away. The posh, elegant lifestyle

After Spanish GP

16 May 2017
“Well, it’s good for the team to score a point, but a shame for Kevin with his puncture to lose P9. I had a good start, then into turns one and two there were a lot of cars spinning. I had to go on the astroturf to avoid them. If that hadn’t been the case, I’d have been next to (Nico) Hulkenberg or in front of him and the race would’ve been different. The pace was there on the softs, but I was always into traffic. On mediums – I really struggled to get those tires to work. There’s a lot of work we can do. I was happier with the car today than yesterday, but still we have to work hard to get a good run home.”

Spain GP – Free practice 1 & 2

12 May 2017
It’s not been an easy day. We’ve been dealing with a lot of things. I think the tires are struggling a bit here to work, or at least we’re struggling to get the tires to work. I don’t think we’re the only ones – a lot of cars have been running wide. So that’s going to be key, getting those correct. If we can do that, we can gain a lot of lap time. We just focused on more work this afternoon, seeing what other tools could be available so we can put everything together for tomorrow.

Interview – Ahead of Spain Grand Prix

10 May 2017
You said you wanted to wait four races until you determined where Haas F1 Team was in relation to its midfield counterparts. With four races in the books, where does Haas F1 Team stand? “Generally, if you look at the first three races, we’ve been really consistent, really good. Sochi was a peculiar one. We struggled a little bit with the car. I struggled with my driving. We can analyze a lot from it. I don’t think it’s down to inconsistency, as it was last year, so I would say that I’m pretty pleased with the way we’ve started the year. I’m pleased with where the car is. We’re usually on the border line for getting into Q3. Now the big question is what the updates are going to do? How much of an upgrade are we going to get compared to others? I believe we’re on a good path, but you never know what the others are doing. It’s going to be good to go to Barcelona and see the work we’ve done.” Much was made about the new cars for this season as they are demonstrably faster with more downforce and much wider tires. Despite the amount of change introduced this year, how normal does the new car feel after four races? “As we saw in winter testing, and then in Melbourne to begin the season, we got a big surprise with the speed we can carry through the corners with the car. After a few races, though, you forget that and move on to what we have now. There are a few circuits such as the non-permanent ones where it’ll be fast, but most of the other ones, the grip and speed feels normal.” Last year, finding the proper working range of the tires proved difficult. After racing at four very different venues in four very different environments, how is it to find the proper working range of this year’s tires? “I think this year’s tires are a bit easier to work. Clearly, the tires are a big key – Russia was a good example, where a driver could do more than 30-something laps on ultrasofts. That’s something we need to analyze and understand a bit better. Generally though, this year’s tires have been better than what they’ve been in the past. They’re easier to work.” You racked up a lot of laps at Barcelona earlier this year during winter testing. Do you have a higher level of comfortability with the car at Barcelona because you know what to expect? “Everyone knows Barcelona very well. It’s good to judge which changes we’ve made and how much we’ve developed from winter testing to the race. I think Barcelona is going to be key in the season because it’s the first big update for a lot of drivers and teams. That’s where we need to see what we’ve done, and if it’s good enough or if we want more.” The data Haas F1 Team had from last year is

Interview – Ahead of Russia Grand Prix

25 April 2017
You said in Australia that this year’s car is brutal to drive due to the increased speeds and heightened g-force. But after three races, have you become accustomed to how the current car affects your body? “Yes we have. The first few races yes, you always feel a bit rusty from the winter. But then after three races, now you know what to expect. Some circuits are always more difficult than others, and it depends a lot on how the tires are working. In Bahrain we had quite a big (tire) degradation. That means you lose the grip, and then it’s not as hard as the first lap in the car. I’m pretty sure at some racetracks, like Suzuka, it will be physically demanding, and some others, like Bahrain, it’s a bit less.” Track records have been broken at every venue this year, emphasizing the drastic increase in speeds. How has this affected your role as a driver? Is there less margin for error because you have to be more precise, more accurate? “With this year’s car you need to be much more precise, your coordination with your eyes, point of vision and everything else. You need to be more on it. When you turn two-to-three tenths later than you should have, it’s already one meter, whereas in the past it was maybe 50 centimeters. It makes a big difference.” Coming into the season, there was a question as to how much overtaking was actually possible. Between China and Bahrain, there seemed to be a lot of passing, and you did your fair share, including early in the Bahrain Grand Prix where you were holding off both Toro Rossos and going three-wide with the Renault of Nico Hulkenberg and the Force India of Esteban Ocon. Are you surprised at the amount of overtaking opportunities this year and do you feel it puts more of the race in your hands? “I think overtaking is clearly harder than it was in the past, which is maybe not a bad thing. You have to be a bit more creative in trying to go for it. That’s pretty cool. Again, overtaking at some tracks is going to be very tricky, and others it’s not.” You’ve said all along that the Haas VF-17 has speed and a good overall balance. How important was it to finally translate what you’ve felt in the car to a point-paying finish at Bahrain? “It was good to score points in Bahrain. Clearly, we deserved them – since race one, actually. I think the most encouraging fact for now is that the car is performing well everywhere we’ve been. So now we go to Russia, which was a bit of a tough one for us last year. We’ll see if we’ve made progress and if the car is working well at every type of circuit. If so, then pretty much everywhere we could score points.” The Sochi Autodrom seems to emulate Bahrain in terms of setup. How much of what

Interview – Ahead of Bahrain GP

13 April 2017
Bahrain is the site of Haas F1 Team’s best finish – your fifth-place result in last year’s race, which was only the second race for Haas F1 Team. Can you talk about the impact of that race and perhaps how it was even more important than the sixth-place finish you earned in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, as it seemed to validate the team and show that Australia wasn’t a fluke? Bahrain last year was pretty special. Of course, coming from Australia where we’d had a bit of luck with the red flag, we had no more expectation going into Bahrain. From the first free practice lap I thought the car’s not too bad. In qualifying we just managed to be P9, which was what we wanted not going into the Q3, which at that time was the top-eight. We knew we had a set of tires for the race. We had a very aggressive strategy. We had our first ever pit stop in the race – it was then a three-stop race. The car felt good. I was overtaking guys. Before I knew it, I had crossed the line P5. It was not down to luck or anything. It was the pure pace of the car. It was a pretty special race. I still remember having a lot of fun driving the car. In five career Formula One races at Bahrain, you’ve had four point-paying finishes, including two podiums (back-to-back third-place finishes in 2012 and 2013). And in scoring those podiums, you came from seventh and 11th on the grid. In fact, in every race you’ve picked up positions from where you qualified – 23 positions in all. Is there something about Bahrain that plays to your strengths? I love the track in Bahrain. On paper, it doesn’t look like the most exciting one, but driving it is pretty good fun. Big braking – I brake late. I love braking hard and late. It probably explains why my qualifying sessions in 2012 and 2013, I could have done better. The car was pretty good on tires in the race. It’s hard on tires as well, but I was good with that, probably another thing that helped. I love racing in Bahrain. You’ve proven that you can overtake at Bahrain. Where do you overtake and how do you do it? There’s plenty of places where you can overtake. Basically, turn one is DRS, and going up to turn four is another good place. Down to turn eight, on the first few laps of the race, is a quick one. Before turn 11 is a bit more tricky. Even though you’ve got the DRS, it’s a tricky place to overtake. There’s only one corner where you could overtake, but you don’t really want to do it – it’s the last corner, because the guy behind you has the DRS and he’ll just take you back. With all the newness this year, how helpful is it to have the same tire compounds
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