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Abu Dhabi GP advance

20 November 2017
Abu Dhabi is the season finale, and it’s also the finale of Haas F1 Team’s sophomore year. After having to race brand new racecars in back-to-back seasons under two sets of very different rules packages, how does this year compare to last year? “It was much better. The car was faster, more fun to drive, more physical and more challenging, as well. Generally, the new generation of car was much more in line with what you’d expect for Formula One.” Were there any key learnings from last year that you applied to this year? “I think Formula One is one of those sports where you can’t train outside of racing. Every year is important, and every year brings more experience, so you get better and better.” Regardless of the outcome in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Haas F1 Team will have surpassed its point tally from 2016 by 18 points. Are points scored the surest, most tangible examples of progress, or are there other elements of progress not everyone is able to see from the outside? “There’s much more than points. We’ve definitely made some good progress. We’re still behind what we could potentially do, that’s why the winter is going to be important for us to get everything ready for next season. When we started 2017, we were much stronger than at the start of 2016. I’m looking forward to seeing where we are in 2018 and making the big steps I believe we can.” Prior to 2017, there were those who proclaimed that Haas F1 Team’s second season would be harder than its first. Was this accurate, or were the challenges just different? “The second season is always going to be harder than the first one, but I think we’ve done very well. We started the year super strong. We then went down a little bit, which we need to address for the future. I think for as challenging a season as it was going to be, we’ve done super well.” What were the team’s challenges this year? “It was keeping the development rate going and understanding the new car. Clearly, we knew starting the season that the car from Melbourne would be fairly far from the one in Abu Dhabi. We just had to keep the development going and find the right areas to improve the car.” What were the team’s strengths? “There are a lot of them, but I think the atmosphere, and the team spirit we have, is the key to the team.” The way Haas F1 Team is set up is unorthodox, at least by Formula One standards. Does the team’s success in its second year validate Haas F1 Team’s approach? “I think so. Of course, we still haven’t reached our limitation with what we can do with our setup, because I’m sure we can be stronger and be up there. It works very well. There are a few adjustments to be made year-after-year, which Gene (Haas) and Guenther (Steiner) are doing. I’m sure

Brazil Grand Prix advance

8 November 2017
You endured a difficult weekend in the last grand prix in Mexico City. What were you struggling with and was it specific to the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez or do you expect to face similar challenges in Brazil? “Well, we struggled in qualifying with both cars. We didn’t really have any pace. In the race, the pace was better but, unfortunately, my car was badly damaged following the contact with Fernando Alonso. So, we really struggled during the race with the damage. I lost a lot of downforce from the floor. It was a difficult one. I’m hoping that Brazil will be a little less challenging. Hopefully, we’ll get better performance, which was the case last year. Mexico is a very special one, with the altitude and the cooling, and so on. We didn’t have much downforce on the car. Obviously in the race, when we could’ve made some ground, the damage didn’t allow us to do so.” When you have a tough weekend, do you dwell on it or do you try to put it out of your mind as quickly as possible and focus on the next race? “I think having a family is really good in this aspect. I go back home and I play with the kids. They make you forget you’ve had a tough weekend. You can always learn from it, and you need to learn from a tough one, but it doesn’t put you down as it would if you maybe didn’t have a family. They just boost me again, and I just use the experience to move forward.” With only two races remaining, the midfield is as tight as ever, specifically among Haas F1 Team, Renault and Toro Rosso. How would you characterize this battle, and do you find yourself looking at the time sheets to see where you stack up to the drivers on those teams? “I think out of those teams, Renault is the faster one. They’ve got a really good car through to the end of the season. They’ve had a bit more of a difficult time in the races, which has allowed us to close the gap and keep them in sight. Toro Rosso is the one we can try to go for. They’re not performing better than we are, and they’ve got less experience amongst their drivers, so that should help us. We’re going to do everything we can to get those positions because it’s very important for the team.” Whenever Formula One travels to Brazil, Ayrton Senna’s legacy is prominent. Of all his races, is there one that stands out for you? “Brazil is always special because of Ayrton Senna. He was one of the biggest names in Formula One. Interlagos is a special place. There’s so much history there. On raceday you’ve got so much support from the fans. I remember Ayrton winning there in 1991 when he couldn’t hold the trophy in the air because he was so tired and had the pain in his arms

Mexican Grand Prix Advance

26 October 2017
How much does Mexico City’s altitude affect the car, from engine performance, to brake performance to aero performance? “Brake cooling is an issue because of the air density. From there, we also have very little downforce because we’re at altitude. I guess the biggest thing for us to feel is the downforce loss. The biggest challenge for the car is the cooling.” How much does Mexico City’s altitude affect you physically, especially during the race? “It’s been fine in previous years, but with these new cars, and if the track has rubbered up a little bit, it could be harder.” Grip was in short supply at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in 2015 and it remained that way last year. What did you have to do to compensate for the lack of grip? “Find the right setup and find the right way to get the tires to work at their best in those conditions, which is always a challenge.” With the higher levels of downforce these current-generation cars achieve, do you expect grip to be less of a factor in this year’s race? “No, I think it’s always going to be the same, because that’s the key to perform. The more grip you have, the better you are. I think even with more downforce, we’re still going to lose the same amount as we did last year in terms of percentage, compared to a normal track. It’s going to be slippery.” Finding grip means getting the tires into their proper working window. With 17 races having been run this season, have you discovered any tricks to the trade in getting a particular tire compound into its appropriate working range, and if so, how do you keep it there? “I guess that’s still our Achilles’ heel. We’re still struggling a bit with getting our tires right. That comes with time and experience. We are getting better. We’re all working hard to find the right answers. Sometimes though, we still don’t have them. We do on some occasions, which is great, but on others we don’t. We just have to come to a racetrack and see, then we try to do our best from there.” Explain what you do in qualifying to get the tires into their proper working range so you can extract the maximum amount of performance out of them for a fast lap. “It depends a lot on the circuit. Some circuits you need a slow out-lap not to heat the tires too hard. Other circuits you really need to push hard on the out-lap to generate the temperature and the grip. It really does change circuit to circuit. We just have to go and see.” After a 22-year absence, Formula One returned to Mexico in 2015. You competed in that race. What was the atmosphere like? “It was a great atmosphere. During the driver parade, I don’t think I’d ever seen such a big crowd than in the last part of the circuit at the stadium section. It was

Interview – USA Grand Prix advance

17 October 2017
The Far East swing involved plenty of highs and lows for Haas F1 Team. You had to overcome two crashes – one in Malaysia and another in Japan – yet you came away with points in two of the three races to help the team regain seventh in the constructors standings. Talk about how the team handled that adversity and then delivered when it was time to race. “I guess it was a pretty good three-race swing in Asia. We had ups and downs but, generally, we learned a lot, especially after Sepang – getting it right for Suzuka. A double-points finish for the team was pretty big. Singapore, we saved what we could. We didn’t have huge performance, but we had a pretty good race. In Japan we found the sweet spot on the tires, so that was good.” Japan was obviously the high point of the Far East swing with a double-points finish. How important was that result as the team heads into its home race – the United States Grand Prix? “It’s important for the constructors championship because there’s a tight fight there. Austin is always a special one for us. It shows that we’re growing up. We’re going there for the second time in our history, and off the back of eighth- and ninth-place finishes, which is pretty good.” Japan’s Suzuka Circuit has been a strong venue for Haas F1 Team. It was the first track where Haas F1 Team got both its  cars into Q3, and it was the scene of the team’s second double-points finish. How does that track seemingly play to Haas F1 Team’s strengths? “It’s a combination of things. I think it’s very much a driver’s track, where you can try to make the difference. Last year we found a good setup and we tried to use it again this year, but I don’t think it’s truly related to the track. I think we’ve been performing well in other places this year. Generally, I’d say that higher-speed circuits are better for us than lower-speed circuits.” How do you attempt to transfer a strong finish in Japan to another strong finish at COTA? “The truth of one race is not the truth of the next one. It was a good result for us, for Gene (Haas) – who was there – it was a very proud moment. I’m proud of all of us, but for Austin we need to focus on what we can do. We need the right setup, get the right tools and just work as we do, normally. It was pretty good in Japan, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll be the same in Austin. We need to work hard to make it good.” In joining Haas F1 Team, you took a leap of faith in the vision Gene Haas had for an American Formula One team. What has it been like to be a part of this endeavor and what makes Haas F1 Team different from other Formula
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