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United States GP: Preview - Haas

NEWS STORY
18/10/2021

Uralkali Haas F1 Team is embarking on a homecoming as Formula 1 gears up for the 2021 United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

Formula 1 has had a long and storied history in the United States, with several iconic venues across the country playing host to world championship events. Sebring, Watkins Glen, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Long Beach, Dallas, Detroit and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway have all been visited by Formula 1 while Miami looms on the horizon for the future.

Since 2012 the championship has established itself at the specially constructed and overwhelmingly popular Circuit of the Americas (COTA). Four years later Uralkali Haas F1 Team joined Formula 1, giving motorsport's top championship both an American team and an American event.

COTA, located on the outskirts of the popular city of Austin, was purpose-built for Formula 1, featuring a mixture of challenges for teams and drivers alike.

The circuit's focal point is the mountain-like Turn 1, now named Big Red in honor of COTA investor Red McCombs, and its plunging exit immediately opens into a sequence of high-speed changes of direction that draws inspiration from iconic circuits such as Silverstone and Suzuka. A long back straight, and stadium-style complex, promotes side-by-side battling thanks to a variety of racing lines, while a quadruple-apex right-hander and double left-hander draws the 5.5km lap to a close.

For Uralkali Haas F1 Team rookies Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher the upcoming round will be their first experience of racing Stateside, with the team venturing back to home turf after the pandemic prevented 2020's event from taking place.

You spoke of satisfaction that the team was able to execute accordingly when Mick progressed into Q2 qualifying last time out in Turkey. Can you detail that feeling a little more and how such a result makes an impact internally within the team after a long season with few on-track highlights?
Guenther Steiner: "For me, I was obviously happy for Mick that he got it done, but for the whole team because as you mentioned, we've had very few on-track highlights, and having something like this assures you that we can do it - that we can execute when we get the opportunity. I think this will have an impact in the next races for the team because they got some of the confidence back that they maybe lost a bit over the year and hopefully we can have another moment like this in 2021."

While you're set to put 2021 firmly behind you, the release of the 2022 provisional calendar allows you to look ahead. What are you most looking forward to from next year's slate of races and are you a fan of wrapping the racing up before December and therefore allowing a more prolonged off-season than in recent years?
GS: "Firstly, I hope the pandemic will be history next year and we can actually execute the calendar as it is planned and we don't have this changing around, which is a lot of work for not a lot of gain, I would say. It's treading water all the time, which is needed to be done in circumstances like this and we fully support it but getting back to normality would be great to start off with. Otherwise, the calendar looks good. Obviously, having Miami in there is great - a second race in the US - and finishing the season a little bit earlier is good for everybody. We have got the summer break and we have got a bit more time in the winter. This year, down to the pandemic, we're almost getting close to Christmas. A little bit longer in the winter is good for everybody to chill out before we get going again for 2023."

The United States Grand Prix is obviously a home event for Haas F1 Team. Having been denied the opportunity to compete at Circuit of the Americas last season due to the pandemic, just how much is the team looking forward to a return to Austin and what have been your highlights from past races there with Haas F1 team?
GS: "Austin has always been good to us. We've got a good fanbase here in the States and it's getting bigger and bigger as Formula 1 grows in the US. We have Haas Hill in Austin, which has been sold out for weeks, if not months already, and it's always great to go there. Austin as a city and also as a racetrack, it's just a good place and having missed out last year, I think the whole of Formula 1 is happy to be back in Austin and we look forward to it. We have done some stuff with NASCAR there as Gene also owns a NASCAR team - Stewart-Haas Racing - which was a good success as we had Romain and Kevin drive that car with Tony Stewart, who is a legend around there. So, all in all, I'm really happy to go there, and to the weekend."

The team recently hosted Team USA Scholarship winners Andre Castro and Max Esterson in Banbury - the young drivers enjoying a tour of the facility and meeting team personnel before they compete for Team USA in the Formula Ford Festival and Walter Hayes Trophy in England. Do you feel it is important to engage with young drivers and provide an insight into how an F1 team operates, and what was your impression of Andre and Max as possibly two aspiring F1 talents?
GS: "For us, being the only American Formula 1 team, to at least show the support we give to these young talents from the United States away from home, in England, was important. We did our best to show them what is needed in Formula 1 because if you get exposed to it from a young age, you can make a plan of what you want to do and what not to do with your life. They came over, had a tour, spoke with a few engineers and I had a talk with them. They're both nice guys so let's see what they do competition-wise in the next months when they're both in England to compete for the Formula Ford Festival and the Walter Hayes Trophy. We wish them good luck and hopefully one of them makes it into Formula 1, maybe both of them."

We arrive at Uralkali Haas F1 Team's home race - the United States Grand Prix - for Round 17 of the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship. Have you been to the States before and what are you most looking forward to off-track this week?
Nikita Mazepin: "It's a very interesting venue, it's a cool track and I've never raced there so I'm looking forward to get out there. It's a track that requires a lot of rhythm, so hopefully I find it quickly!"

You haven't raced around this track before, but it's instantly recognizable with many of the corners have hosted famous battles previously. Which section are you most looking forward to racing around and have you ever faced anything like the uphill run into Turn 1 before?
NM: "I think I'm looking forward most to the sector 1 high-speeds corners, as I think they're very tricky. Turn 1 reminds me very much of Turn 3 in Austria, but I'll need to walk it first to make a complete assumption."

Although we've left Europe, the cold weather is set to follow us. You've mentioned before that the tires are the hardest thing to learn to manage in Formula 1, pardon the pun but do you think you've got a better grip on them coming into the latter stages of the season?
NM: "Obviously, experience really helps. I'm not sure what the weather's going to be at the US Grand Prix yet, but it also very much depends on which compounds we've got for the race so hopefully all the experience I've gathered at the beginning and middle of the year I can carry on to later stages."

We arrive at Uralkali Haas F1 Team's home race - the United States Grand Prix - for Round 17 of the 2021 FIA Formula 1 World Championship. What do you like about the States and in particular Austin, Texas?
Mick Schumacher: "It's our home race so obviously I'm excited about that, but it's much more than that. I like Austin and the US. It's special and it's something where Formula 1 isn't as big just yet but we're on the verge of becoming very big, especially due the 'Drive to Survive' series. I'm very much looking forward to it as it's a great show, there's always so much happening and frankly, I'm just super excited about going back to the states."

You haven't raced around this track before, but it's instantly recognizable with many of the corners have hosted famous battles previously. Which section are you most looking forward to racing around and have you ever faced anything like the uphill run into Turn 1 before?
MS: "I think it's a very special track. You have the first part which is super quick with tight corners and it's very bumpy, so it's definitely a challenge but also, it's a racetrack where overtaking is definitely possible. Hopefully for us it will be a wet race as it will give us the most opportunities but if not, I'm just looking forward to racing out on that track. You say it's had famous battles previously, and I'm sure we will be able to be a part of those one day."

Although we've left Europe, the cold weather is set to follow us. You've mentioned before that the tires are the hardest thing to learn to manage in Formula 1, pardon the pun but do you think you've got a better grip on them coming into the latter stages of the season?
MS: "The tires act differently in different weather conditions, so I'm sure we'll manage. We've got experience with the team more than as drivers but it's something we have to learn and it's great that we have the opportunity to. Hopefully we manage to have a few races ahead of us that aren't as cold as Europe, but a bit warmer."

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