Haas F1 Austrian Grand Prix Preview

Kevin Magnussen says Haas have “made improvements and taken small steps forward”, while Romain Grosjean focused on “geting back to decent level”

Kevin Magnussen says Haas have “made improvements and taken small steps forward”, while Romain Grosjean focused on “geting back to decent level”
Following a season best P7 finish for the team by Kevin Magnussen in Azerbaijan, Haas F1 Team moved to 7th in the constructors standings with 21 points, a three-point margin ahead Renault and 12 points behind sixth-place Toro Rosso. That gives Haas points-finishes in the last four consecuitive Grand Prix’s having not scored in only two race’s so far this season.

Next is the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, this beginning a five-race European tour leg of the Formula 1 Championship. The 4.326-kilometer (2.688-mile) Austrian circuit uses a smaller layout of the Österreichring, which held Formula One races from 1970 until 1987. In last year’s Austrian Grand Prix, Haas F1 Team driver Romain Grosjean finished a strong seventh to pick up six points

It’s a very short circuit wtih just ten turns – the fewest in Formula One and is relatively easy on brakes. For Haas F1, brakes have been the one issue that has come up in the team, but in 2017 it seems Kevin Magnussen has had more fortune with Brembo brakes than Romain Grosjean. Following previous GP weekend in Azerbaijan, those frustrations of the French driver seemed to reach a boiling point, with the team too offering comment on the situation. Grosjean spent most of the Azerbaijan weekend struggling again with the Brembo brakes on his VF-17.

“The brake feeing has been terrible all weekend long but Kevin’s got he same comment and he can drive around [it], that’s why I’m saying I don’t want to blame anything. Braking is my strength, since Formula Renault. But when things are not working as I want, it’s my biggest weakness” Grosjean said.

Guenther Steiner however suggested later in the week it was driving styles which was the difference.

“It’s not that Kevin didn’t have the problems with the brakes,” Steiner said.

“With his driving style for him it’s easier to drive around it, or make it less evident. He was not happy ith the brakes in FP2. For the race he had to lift and coast as well, because we had some issues. With Romains driving style, the brakes need to be perfect, or as close to perfect as can be. At the moment, we are not there.”

“I think it’s driving styles. Maybe Romain brakes later and harder and then turns and maybe Kevin brakes into it and turns already. Maybe it’s easier to feel the brake, but I am not a race car driver so for me I can just see it from data and from my eperience to see what people do, but that is my gut feeling, that that’s what they do. Kevin can drive around it a little bit more.” Steiner said.

These issues are definitely to watch for in Austria, and whether Grosjean can keep calm otherwise the brakes become a more mental issue than anything.

Though most of the lap is easy on brakes the Red Bull Ring’s main overtaking spot will be at turn 2, a heavy braking first or second gear corner after a steep hill climb from turn one where Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton famously crashed on the last lap in 2016. Turn 5 kink will be flat out this year followed by two very fast corners of 6 and 7, the quicker of the two. Turn 10 is also critical because it is blind for the drivers, it will be important for both Haas drivers to get this become comfortable with their braking markers here. If Haas can score double points it should give them a more comfortable cushion to Renault behind and keep the pace with their target Toro Rosso.

Pirelli will bring its three softest tire compounds for this Grand Prix weekend – P Zero Yellow soft, P Zero Red supersoft and P Zero Purple ultrasoft – to the Austrian Grand Prix making it the fifth time this season this package has been offered.

by Jeremiah Doctson

Haas F1 Spanish GP Preview

Kevin Magnussen in Sochi

After 4 very different and less than ideal results, including a turn 1 exit for Romain Grosjean in Sochi, Russia, Haas F1 heads to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain for Round 5 of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship. It’s a great challenging circuit where you rarely have time to rest with long corners, long straights and tricky chicanes.

There are a lot of areas that are going to test the set-up of the VF-17’s chassis and the two Haas pilots lifting and throttle application skill. The circuit is a mix of very long corners such as turn 3 and shorter, sharper corners such as the complex of turns 7-9.

Typically, most teams have a lot of data about how their cars will behave here since it is used in pre-season testing. Haas made a big 241 lap improvement in their 2017 Catalunya testing over 2016, running a total of 715 laps in 2017. Grosjean and Magnussen traveling 3,328.325 kilometers (2,068.125 miles) on the 4.655-kilometer (2.892 mile) circuit in their VF-17.

New FIA regulations for 2017 should even out the playing field this year with teams still learning the best ways to apply the data they gained from their first season of testing at the track under them in pre-season. The bigger and faster cars have increased the width of the front wing, the size of the chassis, larger barge boards, a lower and wider rear wing and diffuser that expanded 50 millimeters in height and width. Tyres too have changed to compensate for this, the fronts now 60 millimeters and the back 80 millimeters, a 25% increase from 2016.

Another possible curveball may be the shark-fins this year, with speculation they may be susceptible to cross winds which are a danger in Catalunya especially at turns 3 and 9. If that’s the case will there be any difference between a true shark fin look like what Haas have vs the more square elements like what Williams, Force India and McLaren have?

Another thing will make this weekend spectacular is the upgrades. Let’s just say you don’t want to miss any practice sessions, many teams plan to roll out huge upgrades to their cars for the first time and Haas F1 is no different, saying in their team press release: “…in the Spanish Grand Prix, where competitive arms race of technological bits and pieces are debuted by teams up and down the pit lane. Haas F1 Team is no different, bringing a significant upgrade to its VF-17, the details of which are being kept close to its vest.”

It is unknown however if these upgrades will make any improvement to the brakes which were not solved in Sochi as I thought they might be. Haas did one session on Carbon Industrie brakes then went straight back to Brembo. Grosjean then preceded to be very animated on radio that he was not happy, but Magnussen didn’t seem to be too bothered, and Gunther Steiner seemed to imply the issue was a driver issue not a car issue.

There will be a couple of tough areas on the brakes most so being turn 1 after the long pit straight. The start of this season is not what Haas wanted and now we must aim big to get in a good position for the rest of the it. A very clean weekend and a double points finish will be what the team should be aiming for. Much easier said than done in this new and exciting 2017 Formula 1 Championship.

By Jeremiah Doctson

Haas F1 Russian Grand Prix Preview

Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain.
Sunday 16 April 2017.
World Copyright: Sam Bloxham/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _W6I2713

Next up for round 4 the Sochi Autodrom, a 5.848-kilometer (3.634-mile), 18-turn circuit. Despite it’s complete lack of camber or elevation change, it reminds me of a nice roller coaster that weaves through the stunning architecture of the Winter Olympics and down the coast of the black sea. It will be interesting to see how the cars go at this circuit it could either be good racing or a repeat of Melbourne. I think there is just enough variation to the track that we are going to see a very good race though. Weather conditions will be good. The circuit varies between what are essentially long straights interrupted by short corners in sector 1 whereas sector 3 is very slow and takes much more life out of the tyres. In this sense it will be important to manage the tyres properly in sector 1 so they’re not dead by sector 3.

However, the tarmac is very smooth here and has what’s called a “low macro roughness” meaning there is a very low degradation for the tyres. In 2014 Rosberg did the entire race minus one lap on one set of White Medium tyres. With that partly in mind Pirelli have gone down one level of softness for tyre options this year and will now offer the Soft, Supersoft, and for the first time Pirelli P Zero Purple Ultrasofts.

The current track record at the Sochi Autodrom is 1:35.417, set last year by Mercedes Nico Rosberg in Q3 but this record will likely be broken in the free practice sessions possibly even the first. A non-Mercedes car has never won at this track either now in it’s 4th year of running, so Haas will be hoping Ferrari power has made an improvement at this circuit. Grosjean’s has qualified P8 in 2015 with a best result of P8 in 2016 while Magnussen’s best qualifying in 2016 started him 11th with a best result of P5 in 2014.

Romain Grosjean

“A lot will depend on the temperature. The tarmac in Bahrain is very rough. It’s very smooth in Russia…I do quite like the fast turn three. It’s a very high-speed corner, flat out, then just going into turn four, coming out of the corner, then braking straight away for turn four. I think the corners flow into each other quite nicely. It’s a good track to drive.”

Kevin Magnussen

The Sochi Autodrom seems to emulate Bahrain in terms of setup. How much of what you learned in Bahrain can be transferred to the Russian Grand Prix?

“I think you learn every weekend more and more about the car. You get a better understanding overall, which is going to help everywhere…I like turns six, seven and eight as they’re high speed.”

UPDATE: Haas to start Russian GP weekend with Carbon Industrie brakes

Carbon Industrie brakes will be used by Haas at the start of the Russian Grand Prix weekend. Carbon Industrie brakes were first tested by Haas in 2016 at Brazil and will again be tested as the team struggles to get the performance out of Brembo brakes which caused frustration during the second half of 2016 for the team.

Because they ran Brembo brakes during winter testing, they were forced to start the season with them due to new Formula 1 rules. However, after positive driver feedback from Bahrain testing of Carbon Industrie brakes Haas has decided to start FP1 in Sochi on them after which they will make their decision for the race.

By Jeremiah Doctson

(Image Courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media)

Haas F1 Bahrain Grand Prix Review

Picture courtesy of HAAS F1

The sun dropped, the lights glowed and things were a little windy in the Arabian desert as twilight hours hit for one the aesthetically pleasing but quite soulless and empty atmosphere of the Bahrain Grand Prix. Still, at least the racing is usually good around the 5.412 kilometer (3.363 mile) circuit, and it didn’t let down this time either.
Romain Grosjean, who donned a special golden flaked helmet to replace the usual bright orange accents for the occasion, and Kevin Magnussen both started on the Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft tyres.
Starting in 20th and rising to as high as 15th after the start Magnussen went off at Turn 8 on lap 9 bringing out the caution flags temporarily. Electronic issues cut the cars power supply meaning he had no choice but to stop the car.
Grosjean meanwhile started 9th and held position until a short caution on lap 10 after Lance Stroll was hit by Carlos Sainz. Sainz, who’s been talked about as a possible Ferrari replacement or someone who deserved Bottas’ Mercedes seat, crashed into Stroll coming out of the pits in what was a widely and loudly recognized fault of Sainz by the racing community and stewards who handed him a 3-place penalty for the next round in Sochi, Russia. Shortly thereafter Max Verstappen went off on lap 15 in apparent brake failure, not a huge lock up, we are told. This made for just the 3rd safety car in Bahrain history (I still can’t believe that stat no matter how many times I hear it).
At the restart on lap 16 Grosjean was between the two Force India’s defending from Estaban Ocon while trying to overtake Perez in front. After his second and final stop Grosjean was again on P Zero Red supesofts. On lap 38 Grosjean caught the Toro Rosso of Dannil Kvyat from P9 on the pit straight and overtook him on the inside of Turn 1 getting him into his finishing position of 8th and giving him 4 points in the WDC.
“It was a pretty good race…we had bad luck with the safety car, as we’d pitted just before. I saw Perez come out and I thought, ‘How did he come out in front of me when he’d been 10 seconds behind?’…At the restart I struggled a little bit with top speed. But, eventually we made the right strategy call and pushed on good laps with some great overtaking maneuvers.”
– Romain Grosjean
“Conditions until then [electrical DNF] were pretty good..It would have been a good race. I just look forward now and am happy with the car. It’s running in the points and qualifying in Q3.”
– Kevin Magnussen
It’s a relief the teams arguably #1 driver has gotten points you definitely don’t want your strongest driver to become frustrated which Grosjean is prone to do, but Magnussen is quietly been proving he is a good racer despite the reputation bouncing from team to team has given him. Haas need to make a double points finish quickly to help themselves out later in the season when things may get close. VF17 performance is still obviously very strong but the reliability is a question mark.
Haas will head to Sochi Russia next for the 4th Round of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship starting with FP1 on April 28th.

Jeremiah Doctson

 

Haas F1 focused on balance in Shanghai

Photo courtesy of Haas F1 Team

Haas F1 will head to Shanghai International Circuit for Round 2 of the 2017 F1 Season. Built in 2004 the 5.451 kilometer circuit is shaped like the Chinese character Shang, meaning “above” or “ascend”, and is recognizable by its two massive media towers overlooking the pit straight with connecting bridges from the giant grandstands to the pit side. Pirelli will offer P Zero White mediums, Yellow softs and Red supersofts for the unique Shanghai circuit, two of which must be used. Turns 1-4 and 11-13 are extremely slow spiral sections with the cars going down as low as 2nd gear, while the back straight of the circuit is the longest in Formula 1 at 1.4-kilometers (0.869 of a mile) with cars reaching speeds over 320kph (200 mph) before a turn 14 hairpin.

With such contrasting elements, the team will need to focus on a balanced downforce setup for the very low and high downforce situations the car will encounter. The long back straight will present the first opportunity of the season for a true battle between the new Ferrari power of the Haas VF17 against the Mercedes powered Force India and Williams which are known straight-line speed in previous years.

Guenther Steiner made news earlier last week with his comments on the new Ferrari power unit:

“With the engine, there is not just one area that is better, it’s the whole package that has improved from last year. It’s now as competitive as a Mercedes engine, if not better. Ferrari won in Australia, but everybody is developing and trying to get better. It’s always going to be a development race. They’ve made a good step, and without that help from Ferrari, we wouldn’t be where we are.”

If Haas are able to not lose time from this straight it’s an indication the VF17 has made a significant step forward from its predecessor, something the team feels it was unable to prove it has done after a team best sixth in qualifying and seventh-place running in Australia that ended in DNFs for both cars.

Romain Grosjean has five career F1 starts in Shanghai, finishing three times in the points with a best sixth-place result in 2012, while Kevin Magnussen has two starts with a top finish of 13th in 2014. Going into China, both drivers feel confident:

“I felt comfortable all weekend long in the car,” Grosjean said. “Qualifying was, of course, a good moment with the new tires and the new cars running on full power with an empty tank, everyone just going for it. It was pretty exciting in that aspect. I was very pleased with how the car was. Even on high fuel in the race the car felt good.

“It’s a shame we did not finish the race, but things are good and we keep our fingers crossed that she’ll be as good in China as she was in Australia.”

Despite his admittedly poor weekend Magnussen also felt positive about the car:

“The car was there, it was performing, it was just on my side I had a bit of a tough weekend. I didn’t get enough track time and there were too many issues with reliability that meant I didn’t have a good weekend. It’s positive, though, that the car is competitive.”

Balance and precise setup will be the key this weekend for Haas in Shanghai as they look to challenge the top of the midfield.

Jeremiah Doctson

Haas Season Preview: Can the colourful Americans improve on their debut season?

photo courtesy of HAAS F1 Team.

Haas F1 were the last team of the 2017 preseason to reveal their new car; the VF 17 challenger. In it’s first year Haas F1 became the first American constructor to win points in its F1 debut and first constructor overall since Toyota in 2002 to score points on debut.

Romain Grosjean made a 6th place finish in Australia and team best 5th in Bahrain to exceed the Carolina based outfits expectations early season but saw only three points finishes the rest of the season. Difficulty with Brembo brakes and operational issues led to only one point in the second half of the season.

Race strategist Ruth Buscombe was also snagged by Sauber and went mysteriously absent halfway through the season which hurt the team as well. Despite this, Grosjean’s early points were enough to finish the team 8th in the Constructors Championship ahead of Sauber, Mannor and even French giant Renault.

Manor gone from this years grid, the team should be clear of a struggling Sauber, but should want to take another step forward in the championship which will put them head to head with a number of likely foes who had impressive pre-seasons and R&D such as Renault, Toro Rosso and with their woeful testing in Barcelona, McLaren as well. Is the Haas VF 17 a car that can challenge in the midfield?

Drivers

Romain Grosjean
Haas kept its French driver Romain Grosjean who joined the team ahead of the the 2016 season. He scored all 29 of their points gaining with a 5th place in Bahrain. Grosjean is a strong driver and with seniority could be considered the ‘#1’ in the team.

Kevin Magnussen
Kevin Magnussen left Renault under somewhat of a cloud citing frustration at a “lack of commitment” though the French manufacturer was also not happy with his performance. Nonetheless, Magnussen should be an instant improvement upon Guttierez (now signed with Formula E) and the benefit is mutual for him and the team at this juncture. This will make 3 different teams in his 3rd season for Magnussen and gives him an opportunity a growing team to prove himself against a solid driver in Grosjean.

Pre-Season Testing in Barcelona

Testing went well for Haas, as driver Romain Grosjean recorded 76 laps around Catalynya on the final day of testing bringing his two-week testing total to 346 laps, 1,610.63 kilometers (1,000.799 miles). His teammate Kevin Magnussen meanwhile did 369 total laps, 1,717.695 kilometers (1,067.326 miles) during his two weeks of testing. In total Haas ran an impressive 715 laps or 3,328.325 kilometers (2,068.125 miles) during its 2017 preseason test. This, compared to only unning 474 laps from last year.

Magnussen did 119 laps on the final Thursday, the most of Haas preseason. His quickest lap Thursday also was his quickest of the preseason – a 1.20.504 on his 62nd lap with the Pirelli P Zero Purple ultrasoft tyre. That time placed Magnussen fifth among 13 drivers participating.

After a spin in the morning of the the last day of testing, and a sensor issue which stranded him later that morning, Romain Grosjean posted his best time on afternoon of the last day of testing with a 1.21.110 on Pirelli P Z Purple Ultrasoft tyres puting him 10th of 13 drivers. After bringing the VF 17 back to the garage a water leak was discovered preventing the team from running in the final 30 minutes of on-track running.

2017 Predictions

It was said by Romain Grosjean that Ferrari were ‘sandbagging’ and that they were not allowed to use all of their Ferrari PU in Barcelona testing. Exciting, even though you’d assume Renault and Mercedes were also turned down in testing. I think that Haas have done a very good job developing an advanced areodynamic package, there are some very interesting details they have gone with such as front facing elements of the bargeboards, and designs to the floor which are similar to top teams like Mercedes, so it’s nice to see them doing that.

With things at McLaren seemingly going from bad to crisis, I’m going to predict they shock McLaren and Renault, finishing above both but unable to catch the outstanding car Toro Rosso have built finishing them a very respectable 7th in the WCC with Grosjean finishing ahead of Magnussen.

 

Written by
Jeremiah Doctson ‪@JDFormula1 ‬

Haas – Season Preview

MELBOURNE (AUSTRALIA) – 19/03/2016
© FOTO STUDIO COLOMBO PER PIRELLI MEDIA (© COPYRIGHT FREE)

Haas F1 were the last team of the 2017 preseason to reveal their new car; the VF 17 challenger. In it’s first year Haas F1 became the first American constructor to win points in its F1 debut and first constructor overall since Toyota in 2002 to score points on debut. Romain Grosjean made a 6th place finish in Australia and team best 5th in Bahrain to exceed the Carolina based outfits expectations early season but saw only three points finishes the rest of the season.

Difficulty with Brembo brakes and operational issues led to only one point in the second half of the season. Race strategist Ruth Buscombe was also snagged by Sauber and went mysteriously absent halfway through the season which hurt the team as well. Despite this, Grosjean’s early points were enough to finish the team 8th in the Constructors Championship ahead of Sauber, Mannor and even French giant Renault.

Manor gone from this year’s grid, the team should be clear of a struggling Sauber, but should want to take another step forward in the championship which will put them head to head with a number of likely foes who had impressive pre-seasons and R&D such as Renault, Toro Rosso and with their woeful testing in Barcelona, McLaren as well. Is the Haas VF 17 a car that can challenge in the midfield?

Drivers

Romain Grosjean

Haas kept its French driver Romain Grosjean who joined the team ahead of the the 2016 season. He scored all 29 of their points gaining with a 5th place in Bahrain. Grosjean is a strong driver and with seniority could be considered the ‘#1’ in the team.

Kevin Magnussen

Kevin Magnussen left Renault under somewhat of a cloud citing frustration at a “lack of commitment” though the French manufacturer was also not happy with his performance. Nonetheless, Magnussen should be an instant improvement upon Guttierez (now signed with Formula E) and the benefit is mutual for him and the team at this juncture. This will make 3 different teams in his 3rd season for Magnussen and gives him an opportunity a growing team to prove himself against a solid driver in Grosjean.

Pre-Season Testing in Barcelona

Testing went well for Haas, as driver Romain Grosjean recorded 76 laps around Catalunya on the final day of testing bringing his two-week testing total to 346 laps, 1,610.63 kilometers (1,000.799 miles). His teammate Kevin Magnussen meanwhile did 369 total laps, 1,717.695 kilometers (1,067.326 miles) during his two weeks of testing.

In total Haas ran an impressive 715 laps or 3,328.325 kilometers (2,068.125 miles) during its 2017 preseason test. This, compared to only running 474 laps from last year. Magnussen did 119 laps on the final Thursday, the most of Haas preseason. His quickest lap Thursday also was his quickest of the preseason – a 1.20.504 on his 62nd lap with the Pirelli P Zero Purple ultrasoft tyre.

That time placed Magnussen fifth among 13 drivers participating. After a spin in the morning of the the last day of testing, and a sensor issue which stranded him later that morning, Romain Grosjean posted his best time on afternoon of the last day of testing with a 1.21.110 on Pirelli P Z Purple Ultrasoft tyres puting him 10th of 13 drivers.

After bringing the VF 17 back to the garage a water leak was discovered preventing the team from running in the final 30 minutes of on-track running.

2017 Predictions

It was said by Romain Grosjean that Ferrari were ‘sandbagging’ and that they were not allowed to use all of their Ferrari PU in Barcelona testing. Exciting, even though you’d assume Renault and Mercedes were also turned down in testing. I think that Haas have done a very good job developing an advanced areodynamic package, there are some very interesting details they have gone with such as front facing elements of the bargeboards, and designs to the floor which are similar to top teams like Mercedes, so it’s nice to see them doing that.

With things at McLaren seemingly going from bad to crisis, I’m going to predict they shock McLaren and Renault, finishing above both but unable to catch the outstanding car Toro Rosso have built finishing them a very respectable 7th in the WCC with Grosjean finishing ahead of Magnussen.

Jeremiah Doctson

(Image Courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media)