Haas F1 Team - Ready to Rise in Land of the Rising Sun

Haas F1 Team - Ready to Rise in Land of the Rising Sun

06.10.2016: After Rough Run of Races, Haas F1 Team Pushing for Points in Japan

After Rough Run of Races, Haas F1 Team  Pushing for Points in Japan

Despite back-to-back races where Haas F1 Team endured an outcome that was less than desired, the sun still rose on the Mondays following the recent grands prix in Singapore and Malaysia. It’s appropriate then that Haas F1 Team visits the land of the rising sun for this weekend’s race intent on reversing its recent course.

The Japanese Grand Prix Sunday at Suzuka Circuit marks the last of a three-race stretch through the Far East. The trip has not been a fruitful one for Haas F1 Team, with the outfit suffering three DNFs (Did Not Finish) and scoring zero points.

Despite recent disappointments, the 5.807-kilometer (3.608-mile), 18-turn Suzuka Circuit offers a reprieve for Haas F1 Team drivers Romain Grosjean and Esteban Gutiérrez.

Grosjean led 26 laps in the 2013 Japanese Grand Prix before finishing third behind the dominant Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. And in last year’s Japanese Grand Prix, Grosjean finished in the points with a solid seventh-place effort.

Gutiérrez scored the first points of his Formula One career when he finished seventh at Suzuka during his rookie season in 2013. The affable driver has been knocking on the door of another point-paying result all year long, with five 11th-place finishes in the last 12 races.

Grosjean and Gutiérrez look forward to Suzuka, and not just because it’s their next opportunity to displace the late-season misfortune that has befallen them. Suzuka is a driver’s track, where racecars can be pushed to the absolute limit even without being stuck to the track via maximum downforce.

The layout of Suzuka is a figure-eight, and it is the only track on the 21-race Formula One schedule with such a configuration. A bridge overtop the straight that links turns nine (Degner 2) and 10 is a signature of the track, with drivers nearing 330 kph (205 mph) as they go across the bridge through turn 15, better known as 130R, so named because of its 130-meter radius.

The first sector of the track caters to a car’s aerodynamic efficiency, while the second sector rewards horsepower. The entire course features every kind of corner, and its relatively old asphalt surface provides a high level of grip.

The stout amount of grip combined with high lateral loads through the corners accelerates tire wear, which is why for the second straight week Pirelli has brought the three toughest tires in its lineup – the P Zero Orange hard, the P Zero White medium and the P Zero Yellow soft.

Tough is a term that aptly describes Haas F1 Team. The first American Formula One team in 30 years has scored 28 points so far in its debut season to sit a respectable eighth in the constructor standings, 19 points behind seventh-place Toro Rosso and 20 points ahead of ninth-place Renault.

Five races still remain in 2016, giving Haas F1 Team five more opportunities to solidify its position among its far more established counterparts. Having already risen from dream to reality, Haas F1 Team seeks an upward trajectory Sunday in the Japanese Grand Prix.


Even though it is Haas F1 Team’s first season and it’s been very productive, is it disappointing to have the kinds of issues you experienced in Singapore and Malaysia come about so late in the year?

“It’s not like we’ve been having these problems. We’re just having them now. We just need to deal with them and continue finding solutions. This is a time for us to show how strong we are. We’ve faced adversity before.

We always dig our way out of it. We get things done because we just keep working. And the only way to get out of the situations we’ve been in is to keep working. You can say that you are unlucky, but you make your own luck.

When these things happen you analyze what took place, prevent that it happens again and never give up.”

High-speed stability in regard to mechanical stiffness and aerodynamic balance seem to be the key to success at Suzuka. What do you do to achieve that?

“You can’t do a lot more than what your car has already, and we are pretty confident that what we’ve got is working well. We just need to find a balance for the weekend.

Japan is high speed and there are some challenging corners, but it’s a nice place to be and I hope we can find a good setup and show what we can do.”

Power is another important and obvious aspect to a successful race weekend at Suzuka. You received the most recent upgrade from Ferrari at Monza. How has it performed and how crucial is it to have at a track where we’ll see some of the highest speeds of the season?

“Power is always important, but much more important at races like Spa, Monza and Suzuka. The latest update from Ferrari was very good. It helped us a lot at Spa and Monza.

We got into Q3 in Monza thanks to the power upgrade from Ferrari. I think it will help us in Suzuka as long as we find a good balance for the car.”

There seems to be a delicate balance at Suzuka in regard to downforce. Too much and you go slowly down the straights. Too little and the driver won’t have the confidence to attack the track’s twists and turns. Obviously, the level of downforce is predicated on how comfortable the driver is at speed. How do you find this balance between the needs of the car and the needs of the driver?

“It’s one of those things that go hand-in-hand. Once you find the quickest way around the track by balancing top-end speed versus downforce, the driver is quite happy because he wants to be quickest around the track. For them, the happiest is when they get a good lap time.”

Understeer through the esses between turns three and seven is often at the top of the to-do list at Suzuka. How do you address understeer and at what point does a change to help the car in one section of the track hurt it in another section?

“It’s mainly about how your car is set up from the beginning. You can always get a little understeer, but then you introduce oversteer into the other parts of the track. We will see how we end up.”

With all the investment that goes on in Formula One, is the investment a team has made in its driver lineup perhaps best on display at Suzuka?

“Absolutely. You need to be a brave man around Suzuka. You’re at high speed and when you go off, sometimes it’s not a soft landing. You need to be brave, but you also need to be very technical to set the car up. Suzuka is definitely a track that tests driver skill.”

Beyond the racetrack, what is most often talked about at Suzuka is the passion its fans have. Can you describe the atmosphere at the track and the fervency Japanese fans have for Formula One?

“I think it’s very special. If you are a fan at Suzuka, you are a diehard fan. They will be lining up outside. It’s quite amazing how much they love it. I think a lot of people look forward to it because it’s so different from anywhere else.”

After Malaysia you had some downtime before you needed to be in Suzuka. Where do you go and what did you do?

“I came straight to Suzuka. I thought about spending some time in Tokyo, but there’s just so much to be done for next year. Having a day in the office, even if it’s just a hotel room, I’d prefer that so I can get ready for the week and get all my work done.”

Japan has some fantastic and unique cuisine. What is your favorite?

“Any sushi or sashimi. I look forward to it. Apparently there is a really good restaurant near the track that I haven’t been to, so I look forward to trying it out.”

When you leave Japan you’ll be gearing up for your home race – the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas. Where do you want Haas F1 Team to be at that time and what will your thoughts be on that long flight back to North Carolina?

“I think the biggest thing is just to not make mistakes. Our car is the sixth- or seventh-fastest car on the grid at the moment. We hope to be sixth and have a good run and go into Q3. The biggest thing is not making any mistakes. We want to show off the car as much as possible to all the American fans and give them a good show.”

- Mike Arning - photos Haas F1

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/haas-f1-team-ready-rise-land-rising-sun---156086.html

06.10.2016 / MaP

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