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Italian GP: Preview - Haas

NEWS STORY
28/08/2018

The summer shutdown came and went, and Haas F1 Team's performance never skipped a beat.

After scoring a double-points finish in the July 29 Hungarian Grand Prix prior to the three-week break mandated by the FIA, Haas F1 Team picked up right where it left off by scoring another double-points finish on Sunday in the Belgian Grand Prix. It was the American squad's third double-points result this season, but its first back-to-back double-points finish in the team's still young history.

In fact, Haas F1 Team has finished in the points six straight times to rise to fifth in the constructors' standings, where it is just six points behind fourth-place Renault with a healthy 24-point advantage over sixth-place McLaren.

Now, the fastest track on the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship schedule beckons - the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, home of the Italian Grand Prix. Haas F1 Team will keep the pedal to the metal at the 5.793-kilometer (3.6-mile), 11-turn circuit in the suburbs of Milan, where two long straights are separated by a few chicanes and some wide, sweeping corners.

These characteristics allow teams to bring a low-downforce package where their drivers are able to approach speeds of nearly 350 kph (217 mph) to earn an average lap speed in excess of 250 kph (155 mph). In fact, the fastest lap ever recorded in Formula One took place at Monza.

Juan Pablo Montoya holds the record and the bragging rights at Monza, with his lap of 1:19.525 in his Williams BMW set during practice for the 2004 Italian Grand Prix delivering an average speed of 262.242 kph (162.950 mph). This came during the height of the V10 engine era, where seven suppliers - Ferrari, Mercedes, Honda, Renault, BMW, Toyota and Ford-Cosworth - engaged in an arms race where peak power output was approximately 940 horsepower with RPMs in excess of 19,000.

Engines only had to last a single race in that time, whereas now teams are limited to using three engines a year. But the march of time and technology means that in 2018 the all-time fastest lap in Formula One history might be in jeopardy.

At every venue Formula One has visited in 2018 except Baku City Circuit and the recently added Circuit Paul Ricard, the track record has been broken.

Monza has hosted Formula One since 1950, with this year's Italian Grand Prix serving as the venue's 68th grand prix. The average winning speed in the first Italian Grand Prix was 176.55 kph (109.7 mph). Last year's was 243.627 kph (151.383 mph). As Formula One technology has advanced, its display of speed has been most impressive at Monza, where the track has earned the moniker, Temple of Speed.

Despite today's Formula One cars being outfitted with turbocharged 1.6-liter V6 engines, engineers have wrung considerable power from these tightly packaged units. And thanks to an aerodynamic and tire package introduced last year that has increased downforce and corner speeds, lap times have dropped substantially. Case in point: the fastest lap in last year's Italian Grand Prix - a 1:23.361 at 250.174 kph (155.451 mph) set by Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo - was more than two seconds better than the fastest lap from the 2016 Italian Grand Prix.

The rub, however, is that these current-generation Formula One cars are not as fast in a straight line, as their increased downforce creates increased drag. It's in the corners where these cars shine.

Monza has 11 turns, which means that despite its long straights, there is speed to be found. Can Montoya's 14-year-old mark survive this inevitable evolution of Formula One? Time will literally tell.

As the sport has evolved greatly over its 68-year history, Haas F1 Team has evolved greatly in its barely three-year history.

After scoring 29 points in 2016 and 47 points in 2017, the American team has already surpassed both of those tallies 13 races into its third season. Drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen have combined for 76 points with still eight races remaining.

Haas F1 Team's evolution has been aided by its partnerships with Ferrari and Dallara, where the two companies provide critical motorsports expertise in addition to some Italian lineage.

Maranello-based Ferrari delivers Haas F1 Team its power unit, gearbox and overall technical support, and famed racecar builder Dallara has Haas F1 Team's design staff embedded in its Parma headquarters.

This unique relationship allowed Haas F1 Team to hit the ground running in 2016. The massive task of creating a Formula One team from scratch was made slightly less daunting by the more than 130 collective years of racing experience brought by Ferrari and Dallara. The partnership has matured since, with Haas F1 Team's current point tally providing the best testimonial.

More speed. More points. Monza delivers the former, while Haas F1 Team expects to grab the latter.

What's most important over these next eight races - maximizing Haas F1 Team's place in the championship or working toward next year?
Guenther Steiner: "They are both of equal importance. We still want to go for a better position in the championship, which is fourth. We'll still try hard on that one, as we've done a lot of work on the engineering side of things. Nevertheless, everybody on the design and aero teams are working on the 2019 car."

As the factory shifts focus to next year, do you expect performance to drop off this year or do you expect all the teams around you to be doing something similar to where performance mirrors what it's been so far this year?
GS: "I don't think our performance will drop off. Everybody is still bringing stuff to the racetrack - stuff that was designed and developed months ago. We are doing the same. We will not stop here. We'll bring some smaller upgrades."

What are some of the more difficult aspects of next year's car design?
GS: "It's always with a new regulation, to find the right interpretation, how to get the best out of the regulation in its first year. It's not a complete redesign of the car. We've got a lot of good people, who for sure will try to find big gains with little effort, but everybody else is doing the same. They are all very clever people here in the Formula One paddock. In the end, we will come up with very good performing cars again next year."

The Italian Grand Prix is a quasi home race for Haas F1 Team as its technical partner, Ferrari, and its collaborator on chassis development, Dallara, are both based in Italy. Knowing the Haas VF-18's Italian ties, how important is it to have a strong showing at Monza?
GS: "With Dallara's headquarters only an hour drive from Monza, I'm sure that a lot of their people will be there. It's always good to be there because of the passion people have for the racecars. The history of Monza and the passion of the Tifosi give the Italian Grand Prix a great atmosphere, and with it being close to both of our technical partners, we want to do our best."

How has the technical partnership with Ferrari been and how has it evolved as Haas F1 Team went from designing a car to building it first racecar to building the current-generation car?
GS: "Our technical relationship with Ferrari is very good. Without them, we wouldn't be where we are. The relationship was always good, it's just easier now as we know each other and everybody knows the expectations. It is a good relationship."

How does Haas F1 Team differentiate itself from Ferrari?
GS: "We buy the non-listed parts from Ferrari, which are allowed by FIA regulations. What we have to do to be a constructor in Formula One is build our own chassis and do our own aero development. You have to manufacture all your own parts which go with the aero, like the front wing, rear wing, all the bodywork, radiators and chassis - we have to do all that ourselves from design to manufacture. All the parts like suspension, we buy from Ferrari to make it simple, but the rest we have to develop ourselves."

Explain Dallara's role with Haas F1 Team.
GS: "Dallara is a contracted engineering company to us. They are the leader in racecar design and manufacturing for all the single-make series with F2, F3, GP3, Super Formula, Indy car - they do a lot of stuff and it would take too long to name them all. They've got an infrastructure in place with engineers and manufacturing capabilities. We sub-contract a team of engineers from their pool of engineers to work for us. We buy a lot of our composite parts from them. Their designers design things, but it's under the leadership of Haas F1 Team and our chief designer Rob Taylor and our aero group with Ben Agathangelou."

Haas F1 Team has evolved greatly from its inaugural season in 2016. How has Dallara helped in that evolution?
GS: "Dallara is a big part of our team. They were there at the beginning of our team and they still are. With time, the relationship has gotten better and easier."

How crucial was Dallara and Ferrari in allowing Haas F1 Team to be competitive in not only its first year, but its second year when another new car needed to be built, and this year with an evolution of the 2017 car thanks to rules stability?
GS: "You work on the relationship like you work on technical development. The relationship develops, and you know where you can most efficiently make gains. Ferrari's been in Formula One for 50 years, so we get their expertise. Dallara's been building racing cars a long time. They're good engineers and racecar builders. It all helped us a lot."

Haas F1 Team's setup is unique - headquarters in the United States, logistical base in England and car design in Italy. How have you been able to manage it and ensure that three facilities in three different time zones work together?
GS: "Good people! You need to have people that you can trust, and that is the only way to do it. It does include a lot of traveling from my side, but we don't know any different, which makes it a bit easier for us. We just use technology to talk and it seems to be working. I suppose we could've done it differently, but I think that part of our success is that we have the right people in the right places. As of now, it seems to be working, even if it is a lot of work compared to everything being in one place. As long as it continues to work, we will continue to do it this way."

How has the technical partnership with Ferrari been and how has it evolved as Haas F1 Team went from designing a car to building it first racecar to building the current-generation car?
Romain Grosjean: "Ferrari's been a really good help for us. From day one we didn't have to bother about things like the power unit, or suspension or gearbox - a lot of parts that would've taken us a long time to build and to get right. So, that has been incredible. Being able to use them every year, and use the new generation every year, it just means that the car is getting better and better."

How crucial was Dallara and Ferrari in allowing Haas F1 Team to be competitive in not only its first year, but its second year when another new car needed to be built, and this year with an evolution of the 2017 car thanks to rules stability?
RG: "It's the same thing with Dallara. They've been a great partner of the team and a great help to get everything working. It was a challenge for them as well. They didn't know the exact demands of Formula One initially, but we grew up together."

A 1:19.525 lap set by Juan Pablo Montoya during practice for the 2004 Italian Grand Prix is widely regarded as the fastest Formula One lap of all time, as his average speed was 262.242 kph (162.950 mph). Will that time be eclipsed this year at Monza and a new benchmark for speed set? (Note: It rained during last year's qualifying session, thwarting any attempt at a new track record.)
RG: "I don't know. It will be interesting. It would be nice to try and beat that record, as it's an old one. It would be nice to get that one. Saying that, the curbs were a bit different, and the chicane was fast at the time. We'll see."

Where are the overtaking opportunities at Monza?
RG: "The good thing with Monza is there's lots of overtaking opportunities. There's turn one, three, eight and then the Parabolica. It's more or less every single braking event."

Is overtaking at Monza a bit like a drag race where it's about who can get on the power the fastest and most effectively?
RG: "Yes, pretty much. It's about top speed and getting out of the corner, and the low speed is quite good as well, with the dirty air of the car in front of you."

Monza is a track with a lot of history and home to some of Formula One's most passionate fans. Can you describe the atmosphere there?
RG: "The atmosphere is crazy in Monza. The Tifosi, the fans - they're just great. The track is in the middle of a park. It's like nowhere else. There are so many people coming and watching, cheering for the drivers and, of course, for Ferrari. The atmosphere is electric. I love it."

Have you had the opportunity to walk around the old portions of Monza, specifically the oval? If so, what ran through your mind when you saw the banking and realized cars in the late 1950s and early 1960s actually raced wheel-to-wheel there?
RG: "It was crazy! You can barely stand up at the top of the oval. We still go underneath part of it at the Ascari chicane. It was definitely a different time, a different era of safety measures. I'm sure it was good fun, though."

Would you have liked to have competed in that era just to see what it was like, or do you prefer to compete with the latest and greatest technology available?
RG: "I'd compete anytime. I've always loved Formula One racing, no matter the era."

Do you have any milestones or moments from your junior career that you enjoyed at Monza?
RG: "My first race in Formula Renault 2.0 in 2004 - the Eurocup Series - was at Monza, and I was on the front row after qualifying. That was quite good. Certainly a happy memory."

What is your favorite part of Monza?
RG: "I like the two Lesmos turns, the 'Curva di Lesmos'."

Describe a lap around Monza.
RG: "You cross the start-finish line going into the first chicane with big braking, dropping down to second gear. Then you've got important acceleration going into the second chicane, which is a bit faster, a bit more curb usage on the exit. You then try and carry as much speed through the two Lesmos turns. Then you go under the old oval and into the Ascari chicane. There's big braking here, with a bump. It's always tricky to get the car there. Then you really want to go early on power to get to the Parabolica. There's another very long straight line, with very late braking to the Parabolica. Again, tricky throttle application heading toward the start-finish line to set your lap."

After coming from a factory team in Renault and now having spent two years with Haas F1 Team, what has the technical partnership with Ferrari been like?
Kevin Magnussen: "It's been great. We get a really good, competitive package from Ferrari. We don't have any complaints at all. It's obvious that Ferrari is one of the leaders in F1 technology and we've benefitted from that relationship. We're extremely happy."

A 1:19.525 lap set by Juan Pablo Montoya during practice for the 2004 Italian Grand Prix is widely regarded as the fastest Formula One lap of all time, as his average speed was 262.242 kph (162.950 mph). Will that time be eclipsed this year at Monza and a new benchmark for speed set?
KM: "I doubt it. This generation of cars, they're very fast in the corners, but their strength isn't the straight-line speed. Monza is all about straight-line speed. Of course, you need a good car in the corners to be competitive, but back then when Montoya set that lap time, they were unbelievably fast on the straights. So, I doubt we'll be able to beat that one."

Where are the overtaking opportunities at Monza?
KM: "Everywhere. Monza is probably the best track for overtaking on the calendar. It's always exciting racing there."

Is overtaking at Monza a bit like a drag race where it's about who can get on the power the fastest and most effectively?
KM: "No. Monza is like any track in that it takes a perfect lap in every sense, and a perfect balance in the car as well."

Monza is a track with a lot of history and home to some of Formula One's most passionate fans. Can you describe the atmosphere there?
KM: "Monza is all about the atmosphere. It's got so much history and the Italian fans are really into it and they're extremely passionate. It's always a fantastic experience racing there."

Have you had the opportunity to walk around the old portions of Monza, specifically the oval? If so, what ran through your mind when you saw the banking and realized cars in the late 1950s and early 1960s actually raced wheel-to-wheel there?
KM: "I have been around the old track several times. It's crazy to think they used to race around that kind of track."

Would you have liked to have competed in that era just to see what it was like, or do you prefer to compete with the latest and greatest technology available?
KM: "I'd prefer to be racing now, at least I think so. I can't say for sure because I haven't tried an older car from those years, though I'd like to. I think they had a lot of cool things back then that we don't have today."

Do you have any milestones or moments from your junior career that you enjoyed at Monza?
KM: "I've had many good races there. I can't just pick out one."

What is your favorite part of Monza?
KM: "Probably the Variante Ascari."

Describe a lap around Monza.
KM: "Fast, long-straights and big braking zones."

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