Haas F1 Team ‘Pointed’ Toward Austria

American Squad Seeks Fifth Straight

Point-Paying Finish and Seventh of Season

 

KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (July 2, 2017) – With the Austrian Grand Prix July 9 at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship starts its European tour. A five-race slate kicks off in Austria before moving to England and then Hungary, Belgium and Italy.

 

Haas F1 Team comes into this summer stretch having scored four straight point-paying finishes and six on the year to place it seventh in the constructors standings. It has a three-point margin over eighth-place Renault while sixth-place Toro Rosso is 12 points ahead.

 

After scoring 29 points in its inaugural season, Haas F1 Team came into 2017 looking to expand on that number by consistently putting its cars in the points. After seven races, the American squad has accumulated 21 points and endured only two races without a point-paying result.

 

Last year, Haas F1 Team only had five races that produced points. The organization has already surpassed that mark in its sophomore year before even reaching the season’s halfway point. The regular taste of points has made the team hungry for more, and the team no longer hopes for points, but expects them.

 

In last year’s Austrian Grand Prix, Haas F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean finished a strong seventh to pick up six points. Returning to the Red Bull Ring has him and teammate Kevin Magnussen, who finished seventh two weeks ago in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, ready to ring in another points haul.

 

Scoring points in 2017 has proven to be an exceptional challenge due in large part to an exceptional midfield. The stalwarts of Formula One – Scuderia Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull – remain as strong as ever. But the gap between the midfield runners of Force India, Williams, Toro Rosso, Haas F1 Team, Renault, Sauber and McLaren is finite. All have scored points and, oftentimes, the team that seemed to have the edge one weekend is playing catch up the next.

 

This compact midfield now heads to the compact Red Bull Ring. The 4.326-kilometer (2.688-mile) track operates on a condensed version of the Österreichring, which held Formula One races from 1970 until 1987. It is a relatively short circuit with only Monaco, Mexico City and Interlagos (Brazil) being shorter. It has just nine turns – the fewest in Formula One – but covers a wide range of conditions.

 

The Red Bull Ring’s prime overtaking zone comes at turn two (Remus), where after heavy braking, drivers navigate the sharp corner in either first or second gear. Juxtapose that section with the high-speed turn eight (Rindt), which drivers take at sixth gear, pushing the limits of their car and their resolve. Both types of corners, and all the ones in between, require exceptional traction, which is why Pirelli has brought its three softest tire compounds – P Zero Yellow soft, P Zero Red supersoft and P Zero Purple ultrasoft – to the Austrian Grand Prix.

 

Austria marks the fifth grand prix for this tire package, making it the most popular tire lineup, by far, in 2017. This same package was used last year in Austria.

 

Augmenting the consistent tire lineup is the consistency that comes with Formula One’s European tour. After crisscrossing the globe since mid-March, the next two months allow significantly reduced flight times and a welcome reduction in jetlag. Teams can bring all of their transporters, which bring consistent working environs for its drivers, crew members and team partners. It’s as close to normalcy as the world travelers who comprise Formula One can get.

 

Haas F1 Team embraces that consistency, along with the warm, consistent rays of summer. It’s a combination that can ring up another round of points at the Red Bull Ring.

Red Bull Ring
Circuit Length: 4.326 km (2.688 miles)

Laps: 71

Race Distance: 307.020 km (190.773 miles)

Broadcast: CNBC – 7:30 a.m. ET (Pre-Race Show) / 8 a.m. ET (Lights Out)

About Haas F1 Team

Haas F1 Team debuted in the FIA Formula One World Championship in 2016, becoming the first American Formula One team since 1986. Founded by industrialist Gene Haas, Haas F1 Team is based in the United States on the same Kannapolis, North Carolina, campus as his championship-winning NASCAR team, Stewart-Haas Racing. Haas is the founder of Haas Automation, the largest CNC machine tool builder in North America, and he is chairman of Haas F1 Team.

 

Four straight point-paying finishes and six total this season – one more than you had all of last year. Consistency and sustainability were goals at the start of this year. How are you realizing these goals?

“The game has become more difficult. The midfield is much more compact this year. Therefore, it’s difficult to get in the points. We’ve got more points-scoring races, but less points. It is tough, but I think we’ve shown we’ve made progress as a team and that we are more consistent. Look at our pit stops, for example. They’re normally pretty good. It takes time and you cannot buy time. You just need to give yourself time to fix problems and keep on growing. As long as we’re showing improvement, I think we’re doing well.

 

“The teams that are there – they’ve been around for decades. The only thing we can compare ourselves with are the teams that are no longer there – the new startups from around 2010. All of those teams together, they scored a lot less points than we have in not even one-and-a-half seasons. I think we can show what we promised. We want to be a player, we want to be successful, but we also know our limitations. All in all, we’ve done a good job.”

 

One driver had a very good Azerbaijan Grand Prix – Magnussen finished a season-best seventh – and the other, Grosjean, had a very frustrating weekend. How do two drivers in the same equipment have such different fortunes in a race weekend?

“We can go straight there to our issue, which is braking. It’s not that Kevin didn’t have the problems with the brakes. With his driving style – for him it’s easier to drive around it, or make it less evident. He was not happy with the brakes in FP2. For the race, he had to lift and coast, as well, because we had some issues. With Romain’s driving style, the brakes need to be perfect, or as close to perfect as can be. At the moment, we are not there.”

 

The cars are the same, but the drivers are indeed different. How do you tailor a car’s setup to best match a driver’s preferences and feel?

“The cars as a setup – suspension-wise and aero-wise – are pretty similar all the time. But their driving styles – how they go into a corner – that’s a little bit different. In the end the cars are not far apart. The drivers work with their race engineer, but the cars, in principle, are very similar.”

 

In your role as team principal, how much of your job is spent analyzing the racecar and how much of your job is spent managing people?

“I would say analyzing the racecar is very little. I know what’s going on, but I’ve got qualified people to do that. The group around Ayao Komatsu (principal race engineer) is doing all that work. They don’t need me. Managing people is my main job. That takes a lot of my time. I’m also trying to help them so that they can get what they need. I need to make it possible. They need to explain to me things that are missing, and then I need to find ways to make the team work better. That’s my job. Analyzing racecars – they don’t want me there.”

 

The Red Bull Ring in Spielberg is relatively close to your hometown of Merano, Italy. Do you view it as a home race of sorts?

“Yes, of sorts, but I’ve got many home races in my life. I have one in Austria, one in Italy, which is Monza, and one in the United States. Red Bull Ring is relatively close to where I come from and is only about a five-hour drive from my hometown.”

 

Austria marks the beginning of a five-race stretch of European races where teams can take all of their transporters and hospitality units to each race. How much easier is this from a logistical standpoint?

“I wouldn’t say it’s easier, but just more convenient because you have the equipment right there. Back-to-back races are always very difficult for the guys, even if it is in Europe and you have all your transporters. To go from one place to the other by truck, it sometimes takes us as long, if not longer, than the flight would since we have a lot of going back and forth. It is nice to be in Europe with one time zone, though. There is a lot less jetlag. I know the mechanics enjoy being in Europe since it is no more than a two-hour flight home for them. All in all, it is a little bit more convenient, but it is not easy.”

 

 

 

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 fitness. You don’t have to get used to jetlag and you know more of the food you’re going to be eating. It really helps us reach our peak performance.”

 

Because the travel is less intense, does this summer stretch of European races allow you to ratchet up your physical training, or does it simply allow you to get into more of a routine?

“We’ll look to step it up now. When we’re traveling and dealing with time-zone changes and so on, it’s definitely important to keep a routine and still focus on training. We have a bit more time now that we’re on the European circuit. The three-week summer break will also allow us to work hard on fitness. You start with a good level and then you have to work to maintain it. Summer’s great because it’s a bit easier. You can do a lot more outside, which I enjoy.”

 

What is your favorite form of exercise? Is it running, cycling, weightlifting, or is it more about what you feel like doing on a particular day?

“A lot of it depends on the day and the weather. For example, if it’s 30 degrees (Celsius) then I’m cycling, for sure, not running. It also depends on what time I have available. I like playing tennis as well. Sometimes it’s good to challenge yourself and do something quite hard. It can give you a boost for the next race.”

 

Much was made about the fitness level drivers needed to have this year to handle the heightened g-forces and faster speeds of this new-generation car. Was the strain on the body as much as you expected and after eight races does everything seem pretty normal, despite all the talk of needing to be stronger to drive these cars?

“Personally, I prepared too much for 2017, but it’s better being too prepared than not enough. The cars are much harder, physically, than they were before. They’re great fun to drive. It brings greater challenges. A lot is related to how the tires are working. You can push on the tires, but not as much as you would like. Everything now feels normal. The speed we’re doing in the car feels normal. I guess if we went back to the previous generation of cars, we’d out-brake ourselves every single corner.”

 

The Red Bull Ring is a relatively short circuit, but its layout covers a wide range of conditions. Is it akin to some other tracks in Formula One or is it unique?

“It’s a funny place to race being in the middle of the mountains. The circuit is very short. The lap time is almost like Monaco. There are some overtaking opportunities. I like going there, and the surrounding area looks a lot like Switzerland.”

 

Do you have any milestones or moments from your junior career that you enjoyed at the Red Bull Ring?

“The first time I raced the Red Bull Ring was in Formula One in 2014. I have no moments there from my time in the junior categories. It’s a track I quite like and I’m very much looking forward to it.”

 

What is your favorite part of the Red Bull Ring?

“I quite like the middle sector. There are medium- to high-speed corners. The track, in general, has two very different parts. You’ve got turn one and turn two, which are very similar. Both are 90-degree turns with big braking and long, straight lines. You’ve then got the second part, which is more flowing.”

 

Describe a lap around the Red Bull Ring.

“You start with big braking into turn one, a 90-degree corner. It’s very important to go early on the power. There’s then a long straight line going up to turn two where you brake very late into the corner, and there’s a change of camber. You go flat again after that to turn three. Again, tricky braking there as you’re going downhill. Then you’ve got a double-left corner, medium- to high-speed turns. The last couple of turns are the same as you go up the hill and then down again. It can be pretty tricky, but if you get the grip under the car and a good balance, it can be a lot of fun to drive.”

 

 

 

 

 

You and the team are scoring points on a regular basis. Do you feel like you’re finding your groove with the team and that points in each race are possible?

“I definitely feel that at each race points are possible, which is a really cool feeling. It’s good going into every race knowing that you can fight for something. It’s cool.”

 

How satisfying is it to be a part of Haas F1 Team and contributing to its growth?

“It’s really cool. The team had performed extremely well in its first season. Now, in its second season, it looks like we’ve made improvements and have already taken small steps forward, and that’s not easy in the second year of a Formula One team.”

 

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?

“No matter where we are, it’s always quite nice in terms of things like our hospitality. We have our own chefs at the track cooking for us. It’s always quite luxurious. It’s still nice having the European season because it feels a bit more like 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?

“It’s nice not having those long trips. It’s a bit better for stress levels as we don’t have to deal with things like jetlag and all that.”

 

Because the travel is less intense, does this summer stretch of European races allow you to ratchet up your physical training, or does it simply allow you to get into more of a routine?

“Both. You get into a little bit better of a routine, and also you have more time on your hands, so you get more training in as well. It’s quite nice.”

 

What is your favorite form of exercise? Is it running, cycling, weightlifting, or is it more about what you feel like doing on a particular day?

“I wouldn’t say I don’t really have a favorite form of exercise. I just enjoy my training because I feel like I’m improving myself and doing the best for my career.”

 

Much was made about the fitness level drivers needed to have this year to handle the heightened g-forces and faster speeds of this new-generation car. Was the strain on the body as much as you expected and after eight races does everything seem pretty normal, despite all the talk of needing to be stronger to drive these cars?

“It’s getting normal now and we’re getting used to it. It’s tough driving these cars physically, but it feels a lot more normal now. There aren’t any surprises.”

 

The Red Bull Ring is a relatively short circuit, but its layout covers a wide range of conditions. Is it akin to some other tracks in Formula One or is it unique?

“It’s a little bit unique. It’s a very small area. It kind of reminds me of a go-kart track in that you can basically see the whole track from the grandstands. It’s quite nice and compact, but still with some fast corners and long straights, giving some opportunities to overtake. When I’ve raced there it’s been entertaining.”

 

What is your favorite part of the Red Bull Ring and why?

“The last corner is pretty cool. There’s short, hard braking just after a fast corner. You’re kind of on the edge there. There’s a bit of a dip in the middle of the apex, so it feels cool going through it.”

 

Describe a lap around the Red Bull Ring.

“It’s like a short rollercoaster ride.”

 

 

 

Red Bull Ring

  • Total number of race laps: 71
  • Complete race distance: 307.020 kilometers (190.773 miles)
  • Pit lane speed limit: 80 kph (50 mph)
  • This 4.326-kilometer (2.688-mile), nine-turn circuit has hosted Formula One 10 times. The first seven races were held on a condensed version of the Österreichring, known as the A-1 Ring, between 1997-2003 before returning to the renamed Red Bull Ring in 2014.
  • Michael Schumacher holds the race lap record at the Red Bull Ring (1:08.337), set in 2003 with Scuderia Ferrari.
  • Lewis Hamilton holds the lap qualifying record at the Red Bull Ring (1:06.228), set during Q2 in 2016 with Mercedes.
  • While the Red Bull Ring is relatively short – only Monaco, Mexico City and Interlagos (Brazil) are shorter – and compact with just nine turns, the circuit covers a wide range of conditions. The prime overtaking zone comes at turn two (Remus), where after heavy braking, drivers navigate the sharp corner in either first or second gear. Juxtapose that section with the high-speed turn eight (Rindt), which drivers take at sixth gear, pushing the limits of their car and their resolve. Both types of corners, and all the ones in between, require good traction, which is why Pirelli has brought its three softest tire compounds to the Red Bull Ring.
  • DYK? Hermann Tilke, the man who has designed many of the newer circuits in Formula One, was responsible for the redesign of the 5.942 kilometer (3.692-mile) Österreichring into the 4.326-kilometer (2.688-mile) A-1 Ring, known now as the Red Bull Ring. The new track debuted in 1996 and Formula One returned in 1997. It was Tilke’s first major track redesign.
  • During the course of the Austrian Grand Prix, lows will range from 15-17 degrees Celsius (60-63 degrees Fahrenheit) to highs of 28-29 degrees Celsius (83-85 degrees Fahrenheit). Relative humidity ranges from 47 percent (comfortable) to 92 percent (very humid), with a dew point varying from 9 degrees Celsius/49 degrees Fahrenheit (dry) to 16 degrees Celsius/60 degrees Fahrenheit (comfortable). The dew point is rarely below 6 degrees Celsius/42 degrees Fahrenheit (dry) or above 18 degrees Celsius/65 degrees Fahrenheit (mildly humid). Typical wind speeds vary from 2-18 kph/1-11 mph (light air to light breeze), rarely exceeding 29 kph/18 mph (moderate breeze).
  • Pirelli is bringing three tire compounds to Austria:
    • P Zero Yellow soft – less grip, less wear (used for long-race stints)
      • This is one of the most frequently used tires in Pirelli’s range, as it strikes a balance between performance and durability, with the accent on performance. It is still geared toward speed rather than long distances, but it remains capable of providing teams with a competitive advantage at the beginning of the race where cars are carrying a full fuel load, and at the end of the race where the fuel load is much lighter and the race effectively becomes a sprint. It is a high working-range compound.
    • P Zero Red supersoft – more grip, medium wear (used for shorter-race stints and for initial portion of qualifying)
      • This is the second softest tire in Pirelli’s range, and it is ideal for tight and twisting circuits, especially in cold weather, when maximum grip is needed. The supersofts warm up rapidly, which has made it a stalwart choice for qualifying. But with increased grip comes increased degradation. It is a low working-range compound.
    • P Zero Purple ultrasoft – highest amount of grip, highest amount of wear (used for qualifying and select race situations)
      • This is the softest tire in Pirelli’s range, with rapid warming and massive performance. It is best used on tight and twisting circuits that put a premium on mechanical grip. However, because it is so soft, it has a limited lifespan. It is a low working-range compound.
  • The Canadian Grand Prix June 9-11 was the last time these three tire compounds were packaged together. Austria marks the fifth grand prix for this tire package, making it the most popular tire lineup, by far, in 2017. This same package was used last year in Austria.
  • Two of the three available compounds must be used during the race. Teams are able to decide when they want to run which compound, adding an element of strategy to the race. A driver can also use all three sets of Pirelli tires in the race, if they so desire. (If there are wet track conditions, the Cinturato Blue full wet tire and the Cinturato Green intermediate tire will be made available.)
  • Pirelli provides each driver 13 sets of dry tires for the race weekend. Of those 13 sets, drivers and their teams can choose the specifications of 10 of those sets from the three compounds Pirelli selected. The remaining three sets are defined by Pirelli – two mandatory tire specifications for the race (one set of P Zero Yellow softs and one set of P Zero Red supersofts) and one mandatory specification for Q3 (one set of P Zero Purple ultrasofts). Haas F1 Team’s drivers have selected the following amounts:
    • Grosjean: one set of P Zero Yellow softs, five sets of P Zero Red supersofts and seven sets of P Zero Purple ultrasofts
    • Magnussen: one set of P Zero Yellow softs, five sets of P Zero Red supersofts and seven sets of P Zero Purple ultrasofts