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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

Interview – Japanese Grand Prix Advance

5 October 2017
You’ve been quoted as saying that Suzuka is your most favorite track in the world. Why? “It’s always difficult to say exactly why. I think it’s the flow, the corners, the high-speed nature of the track. There’s a risk, as well, with all the gravel and the narrow parts of the circuit. Overall though, it’s not one thing, and sometimes you don’t know why you like something, you just do.” You led 26 laps in the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka before finishing third. That is the most laps you’ve led at any Formula One venue. Talk about that race and how you were able to run out front for so long. “I was fourth on the grid and made a really good start. I led from the first corner. Then Red Bull played its strategy. They put one car on a two-stop (strategy) and the other on a three-stop strategy. We led 26 laps, but we lost position to them. It was great, though. I remember telling myself to not go out as all the world’s TVs were on me. It was a great feeling to be leading. I loved it. I remember going to the train station after the race and it was packed with all the fans. It was hectic, but memorable.” There seems to be a delicate balance at Suzuka in regard to downforce. Too much and you go slowly down the straights. Too little and you won’t have the confidence to attack the track’s twists and turns. Obviously, the level of downforce is predicated on how comfortable you are at speed. How do you achieve this balance? “It’s one of those tracks where you need quite a lot of downforce and a really good car in the high-speed corners. There are some important low-speed ones, as well. It’s about getting the right confidence in being able to push to the limit in those tricky sector-one turns. It’s not an easy track to set up the car, but definitely a really good one to be on.” Understeer through the esses between turns three and seven is often at the top of the to-do list at Suzuka. How do you address understeer and at what point does a change to help the car in one section of the track hurt it in another section? “It’s a fine line. If you start getting understeer too early, you’re out of the phase quite early onto turns three, four, five, six, seven and eight. If you start with oversteer, it’s bad as well. There’s a fine line in having the right balance there, and to not be too far off what you should have in the low-speed corners as well.” Would you call Suzuka a driver’s track? “Definitely.” Can the driver make more of a difference at Suzuka than at some other tracks? “Not really, unfortunately. It’s about finding the right balance with the car. Your car’s performance dictates your performance at the end. It’s more or less the
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