Au Revoir Monaco, Bonjour Montreal

With Monaco in Rearview Mirror,

Haas F1 Team Sets Sights on Canadian GP

 

KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (May 31, 2018) – If the Haas VF-18s of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen could sport a bumper sticker in the Canadian Grand Prix June 10 at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal, it might read “Happiness is Monaco in my rearview mirror.”

 

Grosjean and Magnussen struggled to find grip and pace at the historic street circuit on the shore of the French Riviera, starting 18th and 19th, respectively, before Magnussen finished 13th and Grosjean placed 15th. The performance bucked the trend Haas F1 Team has displayed this season, with the American outfit consistently showing speed and vying for best-of-the-rest status behind the Big Three teams of Scuderia Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull.

 

Magnussen appropriately summed up the team’s feeling after Monaco, succinctly saying, “I’m just glad we’re out of here, and I can’t wait to go to Montreal and get back into the fight.”

 

As Monaco became ever smaller as drivers and crew members jetted out of the principality, Montreal quickly loomed larger.

 

With many of its Formula One counterparts having brought updates to its racecars in the round before Monaco – the Spanish Grand Prix – Haas F1 Team instead opted for Montreal. Its Haas VF-18s had proven quick all year, and they remained that way in Spain in spite of a developmental arms race that saw new noses, wings, bargeboards and various other appendages on cars up and down the pit lane. Magnussen delivered a strong sixth-place drive in his unaltered VF-18 to top the midfield as Mercedes, Red Bull and Scuderia Ferrari comprised the top-five.

 

“We proved that the car is quick,” said team principal Guenther Steiner. “It’s very satisfying to have shown up in Barcelona and continued to have the pace we did when we were there for winter testing.”

 

And when Steiner was asked in Barcelona when Haas F1 Team’s updates would come, he said, “Sometimes just getting everything out of what you’ve got is better than to keep on upgrading. And sometimes with the upgrades, you need a little bit of time to make them work. Our upgrades will be coming, so we’re in a good spot.”

 

Haas F1 Team expects a return to form in Montreal, with Circuit Gilles Villeneuve being the debut of the organization’s first round of major updates. A new front wing and floor will join a revised bargeboard area on the Haas VF-18s of Grosjean and Magnussen, and both drivers were already eyeing the potential these parts could have before they turned a single lap at Monaco.

 

Said Magnussen, “We’re all looking forward to Canada and to putting some new parts on the car, getting back into our normal shape, and getting back in the fight for points.” Grosjean echoed his teammate’s opinion in the post-race media bullpen in Monaco by adding, “I think we should have a good car in Canada.”

 

In addition to having a positive outlook on their cars’ performance in the Canadian Grand Prix, both drivers genuinely like the 4.361-kilometer (2.710-mile), 14-turn semi-street circuit.

 

In six career Formula One starts at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Grosjean has three top-10 finishes, including a career-best second-place effort earned in 2012, which was his first Canadian Grand Prix. Magnussen also owns a top-10 in Montreal. He finished ninth as a rookie in 2014.

 

Despite wanting to forget about Monaco, there is one significant carryover from the Monaco Grand Prix that is applicable for the Canadian Grand Prix – tires. The same tire lineup from supplier Pirelli that was used in Monaco will be used in Montreal – Red supersoft, Purple ultrasoft and Pink hypersoft.

 

Tight corners and unforgiving walls are a hallmark of both tracks, but Montreal is quite a bit quicker than Monaco, making those tight corners even harder to navigate and placing an additional premium on brake performance. While both tracks have a stop-and-go nature, the speeds achieved on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve stress the brakes on two fronts – harder usage and less time between corners for the brakes to cool. And one section of particular renown – the Wall of Champions on the track’s final chicane – has made many a world champion feel like a world chump.

 

It’s a challenging layout offset by Montreal’s charm, a juxtaposition highlighted by the wheel-to-wheel racing amid the remnants of Expo 67 and the 1976 Summer Olympics. Where medals were earned by Olympians from around the globe more than 40 years ago, Grosjean and Magnussen will put the pedal to the metal in an effort to further distance themselves from Monaco.

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve
Circuit Length: 4.361 kilometers (2.710 miles)

Laps: 70

Race Distance: 305.270 kilometers (189.686 miles)

Broadcast: ABC (2 p.m. EDT on Sunday, June 10)

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.

 

The Canadian Grand Prix marks the first race where Haas F1 Team is bringing significant updates to its racecars. Where have you chosen to develop and what are you looking to achieve with these updates?

“We’ve got quite significant changes – front wing, floor, and all the bargeboard area – we’ve made those updates. Obviously, their aim is to go faster, to gain us speed. A lot of people brought their upgrades to Spain. We decided to bring them to Canada to have a little bit more time, because we’re still a small team and cannot react as quickly as the big ones.”

 

In addition to new updates to the car in Canada, you have a relatively new engine from Ferrari. You trialed this engine in Monaco – did it do what you wanted it to as you prepare for a more power-sensitive track in Circuit Gilles Villeneuve?

“The upgrades in the engines are small because they are so highly developed. To find big gains is very difficult but, for sure, every time Ferrari gives us an upgrade, it is for a good reason, as it has more power.”

 

With teams only allowed to use three engines throughout the course of this 21-race season, can you explain how you’re cycling these engines so that you get the most out of them without wearing them out too quickly?

“You introduce your first replacement engine, basically engine number two, at about this point in the season. You use engine number one for FP1 and FP2, but not for FP3, as you put the newest engine in on Saturday morning for FP3, then for qualifying and the race. Right now, we are up to plan with our engine. If it all goes well, we should get to the end of the season without having to use a fourth engine and get a grid penalty.”

 

Last year, teams could use four engines in a season and, on top of that, there were only 20 races compared to this year’s slate of 21 races. How has the reduced number of engines you can use and the increase in races affected your preparation when it comes to engine management?

“The engine management is done by Ferrari. They’ve worked hard on it so the car can do the mileage, and so that we can do the mileage with three engines over the year.”

 

Another relatively new wrinkle for Canada is the Pink hypersoft tire. You got a lot of experience with it at its debut in Monaco. Did it perform as you expected it, or did it present some new challenges you hadn’t seen before?

“It performs like it should. It’s a proper qualifying tire, and it seems to do ok in the race for a reduced amount of laps.”

 

It was warm in Monaco, but that’s not always the case in Montreal. How does the outside temperature affect the Pink hypersoft?

“In theory, the hypersoft should last longer because of the reduced temperature, but we need to see how abrasive the track is and what we can get out of the tire.”

 

We’ve talked tires and engines this year, but one thing we haven’t talked much about this year is brakes. That’s a good thing, isn’t it? After the team’s travails with brakes the last two years, what allowed you to find the right package for this year?

“Brakes have not been a talking point. I think our guys did a good job introducing a different supplier for our brakes this year. We haven’t had issues yet, and I hope it remains like this.”

 

Canada is known as the hardest-braking grand prix of the year. What do you need to make the most of your car’s braking capability, and how do your drivers manage their brakes for the entire, 70-lap race?

“You use a brake which has longer life. Maybe the braking is not as good as it is normally, but you need the additional life on it so you can finish the race. You also have to work on the cooling so you don’t overheat them. If you overheat them, then you cannot get to the end.”

 

A good brake package gives a driver confidence. Has getting a handle on the team’s brake package allowed Grosjean and Magnussen to push this year’s car harder, allowing for the speed the team has shown this season?

“Absolutely. More confidence means more speed. A good brake package is a consistent one – you always know what it’s going to do. We have that this year, and I’m sure if you ask the drivers, they’re happy with it because they know what they’ve got when they’re braking for a corner.”

 

Cooling the brakes is key, but where do you find that balance between forcing air into the brake ducts to keep them cool and massaging the airflow over the car to create downforce?

“That is the juggling act, but we have quite a few options in the cooling package of the brakes to achieve that balance.”

 

It won’t be until mid-October when Haas F1 Team has a home race with the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. But considering the geographic proximity of Montreal to the U.S., do you view the Canadian Grand Prix as a quasi home race?

“Absolutely. Montreal is actually a little bit closer than Austin to our headquarters in Kannapolis. It’s our shortest travel to a race, and I love that.”

 

 

You’ll have some updates on your racecar for the Canadian Grand Prix. When new parts and pieces are added to your car, how important is that FP1 session to understand how they affect the car in an actual race setting?

“FP1 is normally about tires and aero, and with having updates on the car, we need to make sure in FP1 that it’s working as expected.”

 

Another relatively new wrinkle for Canada is the Pink hypersoft tire. You got a lot of experience with it at its debut in Monaco. Did it perform as you expected it, or did it present some new challenges you hadn’t seen before?

“I think it worked as expected in qualifying, even though I don’t think we got the best of them. We’ve got to get a bit more understanding of them before heading to Canada. In the race, I’ve got to be honest, the three different compounds just didn’t work for us. We were just cruising around, not driving, not pushing as hard as we wanted.”

 

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?

“Tire compounds are going to be the number one priority for us to understand with the new package. The circuit is very different. It is much more high speed with much more curb riding, so the setups are quite different.”

 

It was warm in Monaco, but that’s not always the case in Montreal. How does the outside temperature affect the Pink hypersoft?

“Temperature affects all tires, and we’ve got a little bit less understanding of the hypersoft right now. We’ll see how it goes in Montreal. It can be very warm or very cold there. Hopefully, it’s going to be a nice sunny weekend.”

 

We’ve talked tires and engines this year, but one thing we haven’t talked much about this year is brakes. That’s a good thing, isn’t it? After the team’s travails with brakes the last two years, is it safe to say you’ve found the right package for this year?

“Absolutely. I’m loving the brakes we’re running. I haven’t had an issue with them, and the feeling has been perfect. That box is ticked.”

 

Canada is known as the hardest-braking grand prix of the year. What do you need to make the most of your car’s braking capability, and how do you manage your brakes for the entire, 70-lap race?

“Canada is very hard on the brakes, but our cooling should be better. Sometimes you can do some lift-and-coast, especially when the car is full of fuel at the beginning of the race. You want to try to save the brakes a bit and not overheat them, so they’re good by the end of the race when you’re trying to push them, or by pit stop time.”

 

A good brake package gives a driver confidence. Has getting a handle on the team’s brake package allowed you to push this year’s car harder, allowing for the speed you’ve shown this season?

“I think it’s a part of it, definitely. Braking is key, especially at races like Baku or Monaco. I’ve been very happy, and it allows me to get the best of the car.”

 

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 the 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 Circuit Gilles Villeneuve?

“The whole track. I absolutely love it. I really enjoy racing there. It’s always a great feeling.”

 

Is there a specific portion of Circuit Gilles Villeneuve that is more challenging than other aspects of the track?

“I think it’s turns one, two, three, four, five, six and seven – they’re all quite challenging. That first part of the circuit – it’s a bit more low speed, and it’s a bit more close to the walls – that’s the part that’s the most challenging.”

 

Explain a lap around Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, especially now after competing there with the faster, current-generation car.

“Turn one – you carry much more entry speed – and it’s the same into five, six, seven. You carry more entry speed and you go hard on the throttle. Those are the big differences from the past.”

 

 

You’ll have some updates on your racecar for the Canadian Grand Prix. When new parts and pieces are added to your car, how important is that FP1 session to understand how they affect the car in an actual race setting?

“In FP1 we’re going to do some aero running to get numbers on the aero sensors, and get a correlation check from the real car and the CFD and wind tunnel model. I don’t think we’re going to do anything unusual. I think we’re just going to do the normal thing, as we always do in FP1.”

 

Another relatively new wrinkle for Canada is the Pink hypersoft tire. You got a lot of experience with it at its debut in Monaco. Did it perform as you expected it, or did it present some new challenges you hadn’t seen before?

“I think the hypersoft tire is a good tire, though in Monaco I think it was still too hard – it was difficult to switch on. Hopefully, in Canada it will be a little bit easier. You’ve got longer straights to put load on the tires at high speed to switch them on.”

 

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?

“Of course, we learned a bit about the hypersoft tire in Monaco. We’re going to try and work with that information and get the best out of the tire in Canada.”

 

It was warm in Monaco, but that’s not always the case in Montreal. How does the outside temperature affect the Pink hypersoft?

“It wasn’t particularly warm in Monaco, it was actually quite normal. I think that tarmac was about 40 degrees. I think sometimes it can be the same in Montreal. I don’t think it’s going to be too big a factor.”

 

We’ve talked tires and engines this year, but one thing we haven’t talked much about this year is brakes. That’s a good thing, isn’t it? After the team’s travails with brakes the last two years, is it safe to say you’ve found the right package for this year?

“Yes, no problems with brakes.”

 

What is your favorite part of Circuit Gilles Villeneuve?

“There’s lots of great places around Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. The most famous one is the last chicane, and it’s a really challenging part of the track, as well. It’s probably the most difficult corner on the track, and it’s the last corner, so there’s a lot of pressure when you get to the chicane. You’ve done almost the whole lap, and if you’re on a good lap, there’s lots of pressure to get this part right, as well. It’s always a corner where if you haven’t got a perfect lap, you can try and make it up in that last chicane. If you’re on a good lap, you might not want to take as much risk in that last chicane. So, it’s a really interesting part of the track. I think turns three and four – that chicane’s really technical. You’ve got some places on the track where you’re riding curbs a lot – that’s technical as well. There are some good places for overtaking with long straights. It usually offers up a very interesting race.”

 

Explain a lap around Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, especially now after competing there with the faster, current-generation car.

“It’s kind of a low-speed track with a lot of chicanes and big braking zones. It’s a bit bumpy in places, but there are good opportunities for overtaking.”

 

 

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve

  • Total number of race laps: 70
  • Complete race distance: 305.270 kilometers (189.686 miles)
  • Pit lane speed limit: 80 kph (50 mph)
  • This 4.361-kilometer (2.710-mile), 14-turn circuit has hosted Formula One since 1978, with last year’s Canadian Grand Prix serving as the venue’s 38th grand prix.
  • Rubens Barrichello holds the race lap record at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve (1:13.622), set in 2004 with Scuderia Ferrari.
  • Lewis Hamilton holds the qualifying lap record at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve (1:11.459), set last year in Q3 with Mercedes.
  • Known for its tricky hairpin corners and long straights, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is also known for its “Wall of Champions”. Located at the end of a very long, high-speed straight, the track’s final chicane (turns 13-14) has ensnared many drivers over the years, most notably in 1999 when three world champions – Michael Schumacher, Jacques Villeneuve and Damon Hill – all crashed in this spot. “Wall of Champions” was born, with its nearly non-existent runoff area consisting of a small curb and a narrow strip of asphalt.
  • Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is one of four Formula One locations with ties to the Olympics, as its backstraight runs adjacent to the Olympic rowing basin used during the 1976 Summer Olympics. The Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya was the site of the start/finish line for the road team time trial cycling event when Barcelona hosted the 1992 Summer Olympics. Sochi, site of the Russian Grand Prix, hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics. And the Magdalena Mixhuca Sports City, in which the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is located, hosted numerous events during the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.
  • DYK? Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is located in Montreal’s Parc Jean-Drapeau, named after the Montreal mayor who twice served the city, from 1954 to 1957 and again from 1960 to 1986. Drapeau organized Expo 67, which was Canada’s main celebration during its centennial year. The circuit lies on Notre Dame Island, a man-made island in the St. Lawrence River that was built up for Expo 67. The neighboring Saint Helen’s Island was artificially enlarged to accommodate the fairgrounds and still holds a prominent remnant from Expo 67 – the Biosphere, which can be seen regularly during television coverage of the Canadian Grand Prix.
  • During the course of the Canadian Grand Prix, lows will range from 12-13 degrees Celsius (54-56 degrees Fahrenheit) to highs of 21-23 degrees Celsius (69-74 degrees Fahrenheit). Relative humidity ranges from 46 percent (comfortable) to 87 percent (very humid), with a dew point varying from 6 degrees Celsius/43 degrees Fahrenheit (dry) to 17 degrees Celsius/63 degrees Fahrenheit (mildly humid). The dew point is rarely below 0 degrees Celsius/32 degrees Fahrenheit (dry) or above 20 degrees Celsius/69 degrees Fahrenheit (muggy). Typical wind speeds vary from 2-11 kph/1-7 mph (light air to light breeze), rarely exceeding 14 kph/9 mph (gentle breeze).

 

  • Pirelli is bringing the following three tire compounds to Montreal:
    • P Zero Red supersoft – less grip, less wear (used for long-race stints)
      • This is the third-softest tire in Pirelli’s range, and it is ideal for tight and twisting circuits when a high level of mechanical grip is needed. The supersofts warm up rapidly, which has made it a stalwart choice for qualifying. But with increased grip comes increased degradation.
    • P Zero Purple ultrasoft – more grip, medium wear (used for shorter-race stints and for initial portion of qualifying)
      • This is the second-softest tire in Pirelli’s lineup, with rapid warming and massive performance. However, because it is so soft, it has a relatively limited lifespan.
    • P Zero Pink hypersoft – highest amount of grip, highest amount of wear (used for qualifying and select race situations)
      • This is a brand-new tire for 2018 and it debuted in the Monaco Grand Prix. It is the softest and, subsequently, fastest compound Pirelli has ever made. The hypersoft is suitable for all circuits that demand high levels of mechanical grip, but the trade-off for this extra speed and adhesion is a considerably shorter lifespan.
  • The Canadian Grand Prix marks the second time these three compounds have been packaged together in 2018. The first time came in the series’ most recent event – the Monaco Grand Prix.
  • The Red supersoft tire has been used in every event except the Chinese Grand Prix. The Purple ultrasoft tire was used in the Australian, Chinese, Azerbaijan and Monaco Grands Prix. The pink hypersoft tire made its racing debut in the preceding Monaco Grand Prix.
  • 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 Red supersofts and one set of Purple ultrasofts) and one mandatory specification for Q3 (one set of Pink hypersofts). Haas F1 Team’s drivers have selected the following amounts:
    • Grosjean: two sets of Red supersofts, four sets of Purple ultrasofts and seven sets of Pink hypersofts.
    • Magnussen: three sets of Red supersofts, three sets of Purple ultrasofts and seven sets of Pink hypersofts.