Haas preview the Chinese GP

Date published: April 11 2016

Haas head to Shanghai determined to improve on qualifying as they look to build towards another point-scoring Sunday…

Romain Grosjean
Q: Two grand prix for Haas F1 Team, two very strong races for you. Did you think this kind of success would be possible this soon?
RG:
"Well, initially no. I didn't think it would be possible. Nobody thought like that. I thought, points early in the season, yes, but top-six finishes, I wasn't thinking about that, but I am enjoying the moment."

Q: In each grand prix, the start is crucial, and this was especially evident in Bahrain. Both you and your teammate earned a lot of positions at the start. How much of that is strategy and how much of it is seizing opportunity?
RG:
"It's both. We started on new tires, which gives you an advantage compared to the car in front of you. Of course, the first corner, the first lap, there are always opportunities. It can be a bit messy, as well. You just have to judge. I was good into turn one, then I was a bit blocked by (Lewis) Hamilton, who had been hit, but it's just finding the right limit."

Q: At one point during the race in Bahrain, you had the fastest lap of the race. Is that a glimpse of what the VF-16 is capable of this season?
RG:
"Yes, I saw that on TV. It's great. I think the best proof of what the VF-16 is capable of doing is the qualifying and race in Bahrain. Ninth in qualifying, saving tires, and then finishing sixth in the race."

Q: The strategy you utilized in Bahrain meant you had to be very aggressive throughout the race. How do you balance aggressiveness with taking care of your racecar?
RG:
"It's a tricky one. It's the right balance between having the appropriate strategy to make up a lot of position, but as well as looking after your car, the brakes, tires and fuel. It's mainly down to experience, and finding the right balance between everything."

Q: During each grand prix race weekend, you learn more about the car. But what are you learning about tire strategy and how the different tire compounds affect the car in different ways?
RG:
"I think there's still huge potential that we haven't unlocked in the car, which is great. It's certainly a lot of fun for all the guys and myself. We're looking forward to doing more. Having aggressive strategies gives you some good opportunities. Again, in China, we have some aggressive tire options, so hopefully they will work as well as they did in Bahrain."

Q: You had much more running time at Bahrain in the lead up to the race compared to Australia, where rain hampered practice. How beneficial was the consistent running time you had in Bahrain on Friday and Saturday to your race on Sunday?
RG:
"It was more important for us than for others because we had so little testing, and then very few laps early in the weekend in Australia. Being able to do two full days going into the race was very important for both cars."

Q: For the first time in Haas F1 Team's young history, both you and your teammate advanced to the second round of qualifying. How important was that for the team, but also for you?
RG:
"It was the first objective of the weekend – to improve our qualifying performance from Melbourne. It was not too hard, but a good thing to achieve. To improve in the race was more of a challenge, and we did it. There's lots to learn, but we're going in a good direction."

Q: Haas F1 Team has begun its debut season by surpassing expectations. But how hard is it to stay ahead of the curve in Formula One, as everyone is constantly developing their car?
RG:
"Now it's going to be our challenge to keep up with the big boys. We've had a good start and have a good baseline. Of course, as a driver, I want more performance. I think there are a few more parts coming in China and then a few more after that. I'm very much looking forward to trying the first updates to see if they're working as they should. We're not a hundred percent with the car yet, so there are still a few things we can do without adding the updates."

Q: Explain a lap around the Shanghai International Circuit.
RG:
"It's a fun track. The first corner is probably the best known one. It's a very long, right-hand turn corner. This circuit is very hard on the front tires. There's also the very long backstraight with big braking at the end. It'll be a good test for us to see, on a very different track layout, if we're as good as we were in Bahrain."

Esteban Gutierrez
Q: You had much more running time at Bahrain in the lead up to the race compared to Australia, where rain hampered practice. How beneficial was the consistent running time you had in Bahrain on Friday and Saturday?
EG:
"It has been a great benefit because we had the opportunity to explore and learn more from the car setup-wise. From Barcelona and Australia, we didn't really have time or the chance to experiment a lot. Running consistently in practice in Bahrain helped us to develop the car and develop the setup of the car, so it will be very helpful for the next grand prix."

Q: For the first time in Haas F1 Team's young history, both you and your teammate advanced to the second round of qualifying. How important was that for the team, but also for you?
EG:
"For the team it's a huge boost of moral, because we can show our true speed in qualifying and also in the race, which is the best combination to have. We still have a lot of work to do in order to extract the maximum from our performance, but we are on the way to develop that. It's a huge boost to my motivation because learning that I can be comfortable driving the car on the limit means a lot. I can really enjoy and push the limits quite a lot."

Q: Your race in Bahrain was cut short due to a mechanical problem. While disappointing, how do you shake off that disappointment and prepare for the next opportunity in China?
EG:
"I have the feeling that good times are just around the corner for us to get underway with scoring points consistently. We've had a good pace and a good car at two different tracks. I'm just going to keep preparing, keep pushing and keep fighting the same way because soon, the results will be there."

Q: During each grand prix race weekend, you learn more about the car. But what are you learning about tire strategy and how the different tire compounds affect the car in different ways?
EG:
"The different compounds are directly affecting the car's balance, and our tire selection seems to be quite good. I feel very confident in our strategy, and I'm involved in the planning and execution. We are working in a very good way, and we're able to react quickly to any circumstances that might come during the race."

Q: Haas F1 Team has begun its debut season by surpassing expectations. But how hard is it to stay ahead of the curve in Formula One, as everyone is constantly developing their car?
EG:
"It is true that we have surprised many people. It's a situation that probably we didn't expect – to be that good. We still need to manage our expectations because our car at the moment has reacted pretty well in Melbourne and in Bahrain, but we need to learn how it will react now in China. I think China will give us a good indication of how the season will be, and also the fact that all the other teams are pushing really hard to develop their car during the season. And as the season advances, it will get more and more competitive, so we need to be ready for that. We can still extract more speed and performance from our car, and China gives us an opportunity to do just that."

Q: Explain a lap around the Shanghai International Circuit.
EG:
"Shanghai is a very front-limited track, which puts a lot of front load into the tires. Turn one is very fast and a very long corner – one which is very different to other corners of the season. It's quite iconic to Shanghai. You arrive full speed, and when you enter into the corner, you have to wait very long into turn two. You have turn three, which has a very long exit, and it's quite tricky on traction as you put a lot of lateral on the exit. You go through turns four and five, which is a very high-speed section, and then into turn six and seven, one of my favorite parts of the track.

"You really come into turn six with full speed and then change direction into turn seven. You have to prepare for turns eight and nine because this sequence is very important not to lose the rhythm. Then getting into turn 10, it's a small 90 degree corner which exits to a very, very long straight into turn 11, which is the beginning of a very long corner. You go from very low speed to increasing the speed through the corner, and it's a part of the circuit where it's easy to hurt the front tires. It's an important part of the circuit when it comes to the car's race setup.

"Then one of the longest straights of the season is the backstraight, were you're at maximum speed. You arrive into a very high-braking corner – the hairpin turn 14. Then the last corner is 90 degrees – a medium-speed corner -which is quite tricky on the exit because you have the curb which you can use quite a lot but, obviously, it has its limits. You're always trying to maximize the track. It's quite challenging."