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Bahrain GP: Preview - Haas


Last season was a challenging one for Haas F1 Team as it sacrificed short-term prospects to pursue long-term ambition. The year was spent rebuilding, learning and understanding, with a view to the future and a new set of regulations for Formula 1. The future is now here, and Haas F1 Team is ready to embrace it, and embark on the next chapter of its journey.

Haas F1 Team's 2022 on-track program truly began during pre-season running in Spain and Bahrain. A total of 2,117 kilometers were completed by the VF-22 across six days of track activity at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and the Bahrain International Circuit, laying the foundation ahead of a fresh season of racing.

For the fourth time in Formula 1 history the Bahrain International Circuit will host the season curtain-raiser, following on from 2006, 2010 and 2021. It will be the opening round of a record-breaking 23-race calendar, including anticipated returns to several fan favorites absent since the pandemic, while Formula 1 will welcome Miami for the first time in May.

The Bahrain International Circuit is a venue familiar to Haas F1 Team racers Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher. Magnussen has made seven Formula 1 starts in Bahrain and finished a fine fifth with Haas F1 Team in 2018. Schumacher made his Formula 1 race debut at the 2021 Bahrain Grand Prix, a few months after sealing the 2020 Formula 2 championship at the venue.

Tire supplier Pirelli has nominated the C1 (hard), C2 (medium) and C3 (soft) compounds for the debut of the revised 18-inch tires. Per regulations, either the mediums or hards must be run during one stint of the grand prix.

Formula 1's Bahrain Grand Prix will begin with two practice sessions on Friday, ahead of final practice and qualifying on Saturday, with Sunday's 57-lap race set for 18:00 local time (10:00 EST/15:00 GMT).

Having had a few days to digest events at the Bahrain pre-season test, what went well and what areas need to be worked on for the team ahead of this week's Bahrain Grand Prix.
Guenther Steiner: "What we need to start working on is the reliability. We didn't have it as we wanted it and we've got a big mountain to climb ahead of us. Performance-wise, it's difficult to say because we haven't done enough running, but I would say it doesn't look bad."

Were you surprised at just how quickly Kevin Magnussen integrated back into the team - in particular his strong performance in the VF-22 first time out?
GS: "A little bit but then again, that was one of the reasons why we got him back because he knows the team well after being with us for four years, and he's a good driver. Obviously, I was happy with what he showed but it didn't surprise me massively because that's what we expected and is why we brought him back."

The pairing of Kevin Magnussen with Mick Schumacher blends youth and experience. What are their respective strengths as drivers and how do you see them complimenting each other over the season?
GS: "I would say Kevin also has youth to him still, he's not even 30. We've got one experienced young guy and one really young guy who needs a bit more experience. The strength of Kevin is he's been through ups and downs in his career which has made him a lot tougher but he's well prepared for this challenge. Mick is someone who wants success, whatever work it takes or how hard he needs to push himself to be as good as Kevin, and Kevin can be a good leader in the team because he's more seasoned than Mick. I think we have a good pair at Haas now."

What will represent a successful Bahrain Grand Prix for Haas F1 Team?
GS: "First of all, to finish the race. We had a lot of issues reliability-wise that I'm a bit scared of, but I think if we can finish the race, we have a big chance. I'm optimistic, cautiously optimistic, about getting into the points and that would be success."

You return at a poignant moment for the sport, with the introduction of a new set of regulations and radically different looking cars. What's your early assessment of your time behind the wheel of the VF-22 and what are the main differences you've experienced?
Kevin Magnussen: "First of all, I think it's good that Formula 1 has moved in a direction that is more accommodating to close racing. It's also good timing for me to come back into Formula 1 after a year out and that everyone is having to adapt to these new cars. It fits quite nicely, and I would say lucky timing. Driving them, they're still very fast. They have a lot of downforce. You can feel that they're heavier but mainly changing direction at slow speed with the grip, it's a bit lower, but still very fun to drive and it still feels like a Formula 1 car."

How quickly can you get up to speed with the new car, new processes, and new members of the team?
KM: "Coming back to the team felt very natural. There are new faces in the team which is exciting and good to see as it shows that the team has been growing since I left. You can really feel that there is an upwards trend of growth in the team which is positive and just the atmosphere was super good. Everyone is excited for this new season."

You've only had a few days of working with Mick, but how is your early working relationship and did you follow his progress during his rookie season?
KM: "I've only had a few days to get to know Mick. Straight away it feels like he's a really cool guy, down to earth and obviously a massive talent. I did of course follow his progress during last season - I think he did what he could with a difficult car - and got the car into Q2 a couple of times which was impressive. I'm looking forward to working with him this year."

The Bahrain Grand Prix is Round 1 of a record-breaking 23 race calendar, what are your objectives for this weekend, and do you think we'll see a true reflection of the pecking order early on?
KM: "Our objectives for this weekend are - first of all with these new cars - my biggest worry is not finishing the race. I think it's important to get off to a solid start rather than an explosive one. Of course, it would be nice to get a super good result and that's 100 percent what we're gunning for but most importantly it's to get a good start, some foundation to work from for the rest of the season. In terms of pecking order, I think it's always hard to say even after the first race. You get a much clearer idea after the first race over winter testing, but it does tend to change quite a lot after the first race. We'll see, I'm excited!"

The season is officially beginning this week for Round 1 of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship. After setting over 100 laps throughout testing, can you tell us how the VF-22 feels to drive and the main differences to last season?
Mick Schumacher: "The season has definitely begun. I've been fortunate to get some laps in during testing, although we didn't really get the full opportunity to try everything nonetheless, the car feels good. There are a huge number of differences to how this car feels compared to last year, especially coming back to this track and having driven here, you really feel them. It's very positive, I'm happy and ready to bring on the season."

The Bahrain Grand Prix will herald a new era of racing for Formula 1, what are your targets and where can Haas capitalize on its rivals?
MS: "Targets are difficult to set right now. Obviously, we want to be able to put everything together that we've learned over the last few days and put it into a good package for the start of the season. In terms of where we stack against the rest of the grid, it's very hard to say. I think we're in a good space where we're feeling positive about many things and hopefully, we'll be able to show everyone we've made the right steps and the car is in a better place than we were last year, and I don't think that's awfully difficult to achieve."

A lot has happened since Haas F1 Team last competed at the Bahrain International Circuit, how do you feel after a full season of racing and being involved in the development of the VF-22?
MS: "A lot has changed since my first race with the team. First and foremost, the way I feel in the team is great, I feel super comfortable and really happy and ready to take on this new challenge of the VF-22. It's been great to be a part of the development of it and to see it now in one piece and be able to drive it and feel all the hard work that has been put in by the whole team. Seeing it come to life is quite special. To see it's felt quite positive has been great."

You have a new team-mate in Kevin, someone that is no stranger to the team. How have your first days of working together been and what do you think Kevin will bring to the team and your own development?
MS: "It's been a thrilling way for Kevin to come back. It's a great chance for me to have him in the team as I can learn from him. The feeling within the team is great because they know him so well. He spent four years with them and he's only been away for one year which isn't a huge amount of time. I'm sure he'll get back into the groove quickly and hopefully we can benefit from each other."

We've seen 'Inspector Mick' appear throughout the test - what's caught your eye and what do you make of the many ways that the regulations have been interpreted?
MS: "I think there were a lot of different interpretations of how the cars have been built, especially for this year. It's super interesting to see what direction different teams have decided to go down and who will get it right and who will get it wrong. I would imagine that in the first five races we'll see a lot of changes on a lot of the cars - maybe adapting, changing - or simply just finding a revolutionary fit again so it will be very interesting to keep an eye out and have a look at also what we can do to go quicker."

The team has stayed out between the test and the race. Have you had any time to relax and have fun away from the track?
MS: "We did manage to get some time off to relax and as a team it's really nice to be able to spend time together and go indoor skydiving or simply going to the track and for me just to help them - as much as I can - to build the car. There are definitely a lot of opportunities that I like to take to be a part of the team and get to know everyone better and build a stronger working relationship."


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1. Posted by meatball, 16/03/2022 16:33

"I Just can't imagine Maz giving that same answer to Mick's last question. Morale at the team must have jumped a lot when KMag showed up."

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