Haas preview the Canadian GP

Date published: June 5 2017

Having claimed their first-ever double points haul in Monaco, Haas head to Canada determined to put in a repeat performance.

Romain Grosjean
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 tires is the working range of each compound, specifically, how you get the tire into the proper working range and then keeping it there. How do you find the proper working range of a tire and what do you need to do to stay in that working range?
“I do believe that not a lot of people are 100 percent sure how to get there. It’s very tricky. It’s something we need to work on with Pirelli. We need to make it easier, as we’re spending so much time getting the tires to work. It’s a bit frustrating not being able to work on car balance. Ideally, we’d like a wider window, and pretty much more in common between the compounds, so when you change compounds it doesn’t just fall off in the performance.”

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a semi-street circuit. Is there anything you can take from Monaco and apply to Montreal, especially considering Pirelli is bringing the same tire compounds from Monaco?
“Yes there are a few things we can take, a few setup items we’ve tried. Hopefully, we can make a good package. Canada is, of course, much faster than Monaco. It’s a city circuit, but very different from Monaco. You run less downforce because of the long straights. Mechanically, I think there are a few things we can carry over.”

Canada is known as the hardest-braking grand prix of the year. What do you need to feel in the car to make the most of your car’s braking capability, and how do you manage your brakes for the entire, 70-lap race?
“We’ll be working on our brakes. It’s not our number one strength, but we’re getting better. For Canada, you need to know that when you hit the pedal, you’re going to get 100 percent of what you want. You don’t want a different feel from your demand. That’s what we need to work on. For the race, let’s see which cooling we can run. Worst case scenario – we have to do a bit of lift-and-coast to manage them.”

Montreal is home to one of your best finishes in Formula One – a second-place effort in 2012. What do you remember about that race and how did you achieve that result?
“That was a great race. I started P7. I had a one-stop strategy while everyone else was on a two-stop strategy. Initially, I thought I would finish fifth or sixth as I was stuck behind the Mercedes of (Nico) Rosberg. I couldn’t overtake. Then, everyone pitted. The ones who didn’t were really struggling with grip, so I could overtake them. I didn’t quite have the pace to chase Lewis (Hamilton) and take the win.”

How important was that second-place finish at Montreal in 2012 during that early portion of your Formula One career?
“It was a great race and, obviously, a great result. I always try to do my best. It was a good race. I enjoyed it. It’s always important to strive for the highest finish you can and be as high on the podium as possible.”

What is your favorite part of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and why?
“I like the whole circuit. I’ve always loved it and really enjoy racing there. It’s always a great feeling.”

Describe a lap around Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
“After the start-finish line you go into turn one. It’s tricky braking with a lot of front locking. You’re straight into turn two – a very bumpy hairpin. Then it’s the chicane. You use a lot of the curb and have to be careful on exit because of the wall. Then it’s another left and right corner with tricky braking. You come from the right-hand side corner flat out, and then there’s a long throttle application with a lot of g-force. Then you brake for turns eight and nine. Under the bridge, it’s very bumpy. It’s not so easy to get the grip of the car there. Then it’s the hairpin. Very big braking there. You try to carry some minimum speed and not lose too much time. You then need a good throttle application. Then there’s the famous chicane at the end of the lap, where you really want to brake as late as possible and carry as much speed as possible through that tricky part.”

Kevin Magnussen
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 you joined it for the start of this season?

“Every race it’s visible that we’re growing as a team. We’re getting more and more experience and, most importantly, we’re using that experience. I think it’s showing. We had the team’s first double-points finish this year. That shows the progress the team has made.”

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?
“You feel happy, of course, and you’re proud of the team. It’s not a feeling that goes away. Of course, if the next race is disappointing, I’ll feel disappointed. In general, I’m quite proud of the team and I’m really satisfied with our progress. It’s not that every race is going to be fantastic from now on, but it’s a good benchmark to get both cars in the points and show that we can do it.”

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 means you’ve got to beat some guys that are on the big teams, and that’s not an easy thing to do. We can feel proud about that.”

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?
“The grip is there when the tires are working. It’s just that it’s pretty difficult to get them into the right window because they’re quite hard. Monaco was extreme because it’s a very low-speed track and tire energies are very low, which makes it very hard to get the tires working. Canada is going to be a little bit better, but still I think it’s going to be a challenge. It’s the same for everyone, but some people manage better than others, and that’s part of what we have to learn.”

Another element of the tires is the working range of each compound, specifically, how you get the tire into the proper working range and then keeping it there. How do you find the proper working range of a tire and what do you need to do to stay in that working range?
“I think that’s a science in itself. It’s a very good question and one we’re working on very hard. Of course, on tracks that are more high speed, with Formula One cars having so much downforce, high-speed tracks are the best for that because you put more load into the tires and more energy. Formula One tires like a lot of load and energy, but you can’t slide the tires because then they wear out. The surface is quite fragile. It’s about trying to get energy into the tires without wearing out the surface.”

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a semi-street circuit. Is there anything you can take from Monaco and apply to Montreal, especially considering Pirelli is bringing the same tire compounds from Monaco?
“It’s similar in the way that you need big balls for Canada. It’s a really enjoyable circuit to drive. Always when the walls are close to the track, it makes it a lot more exciting.”

Canada is known as the hardest-braking grand prix of the year. What do you need to feel in the car to make the most of your car’s braking capability, and how do you manage your brakes for the entire, 70-lap race?
“It’s going to be pretty tricky. We’ve had difficulties with temperatures and wear on the brakes this year. Canada is definitely going to be another tricky one, but I’m sure we’ll manage.”

What is your favorite part of the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and why?
“I’d say the last chicane is pretty cool; one – because it’s a bumpy ride and you’ve got to be really precise with the turn in on the corner, and two – you’ve got that famous Wall of Champions on the outside that is always very exciting.”

Describe a lap around Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
“It’s pretty bumpy and you need good braking points.”