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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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