The Haas F1 Team go into this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal, round 7 of the FIA Formula One world championship in eighth place in the Constructors standings on 22 points, two behind McLaren Honda.
Looking ahead to this weekend’s first trip of the season to North America, Haas F1 Team Principal Guenther Steiner was asked:
Both drivers mentioned at Monaco that despite their result, they felt more comfortable with the car. What’s different from what they experienced in Spain?
“In just doing the test in Barcelona after the Spanish Grand Prix, we gained back confidence in what we were doing. In China and in Russia, we struggled with finding the proper working range of the tires. Now, we just have more confidence in our whole package. We’re back to where we were at the beginning of the season.”
As the season has progressed, what has been the rate of development for teams in Formula One? Does it seem to ratchet up another few notches because the drivers and teams get more and more experience with their car?
“Absolutely, because there is no testing allowed anymore during the season except for the two days we had in Spain. The testing is done at the racetrack, and every time you drive the car, you learn. The drivers learn more about the car and how to set it up. If you have problems like we’ve had on Fridays and Saturdays, you don’t learn so much. The more you can run, the more you learn. At the same time, the gains we make get smaller and smaller because we’re constantly fine tuning, and so is everyone else.”
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?
“Pirelli is bringing the same tires – the ultrasoft, supersoft and soft. We’re only using the ultrasoft and soft. It’s a challenge to find the perfect working ranges for these tires. We’ve never had the ultrasoft in Canada. It just debuted in the last race at Monaco. We need to see how that tire works, specifically, in Canada.”
You’ve gone with a pretty aggressive tire strategy for Montreal – no supersofts, only three sets of softs and 10 sets of ultrasofts for each driver. Only you and Renault have opted for no supersofts. What’s the methodology behind this decision?
“We only tested the ultrasofts once before making the decision to use them in Canada, and that was in Barcelona. We will see in Canada if we made the right decision. We know more about the ultrasofts now after having used them in Monaco. We just need to do our best to make them work as best as possible.”
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?
“The biggest thing is the confidence of the driver in the brakes. More confidence means more speed. They need to be confident that the brakes always operate the same, at the same point, at the same time. That is the most important thing. The team can monitor the wear with telemetry, so if we get in danger we can actually tell the driver over the radio that they’re having a problem.”
Last year when you came to Montreal as a spectator, you were asked by media where you would like Haas F1 Team to be when it arrived at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in 2016. You said that you hoped you had scored some points by then and were putting forth a respectable effort. Mission accomplished?
“I think what we promised, we did. We are respectable and we have some points, but you always want more. That’s racing. You’re never happy with what you’ve got, and you always want more.”
Montreal marks the first stint of back-to-back races, as the new Baku City Circuit debuts the very next weekend. Considering that Montreal and Baku are both flyaway races, how difficult are the logistics of moving a team across an ocean when you only have two days to pack up from one venue and arrive at another?
“It’s hard work for the team. The logistics are very well organized for F1 and for the teams, but people need to work late and get up early and fly direct to Baku. A lot of people fly direct with a charter plane from Montreal to Baku. It’s very demanding schedule.”
Knowing that the turnaround time between Montreal and Baku is incredibly tight, how important is it for both racecars to finish the Canadian Grand Prix in one piece?
“For sure it’s important, but if something happens, we’re ready.”
Earlier this year, Haas F1 Team was fifth in the constructor standings. Heading into Round 7 at Montreal, it’s eighth in the constructor standings. Are you paying attention to the points, or is your approach more about putting forth the best effort and letting the chips fall where they may?
“We always put forth the best effort. Where we end up is difficult to predict, because other people score points too. For sure, we keep an eye on the points. We are eighth now and want to be better than that, and we’re putting in a lot of effort to achieve that.”