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Spanish GP: Preview - Haas

NEWS STORY
17/05/2022

Round 6 of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship will take Haas F1 Team to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the Spanish Grand Prix.

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya was inaugurated in 1991, ahead of Barcelona hosting the 1992 Summer Olympics, and it has been a mainstay of Formula 1's calendar ever since. In addition to its 31 years as Spanish Grand Prix host circuit it has also been a regular venue for Formula 1 test days, including earlier in 2022, when it held the opening three-day pre-season shakedown gathering, at which Haas' VF-22 ran for the first time.

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya also holds special memories for Haas F1 Team as it was where its on-track journey began during pre-season testing in February 2016, when the VF-16 hit the circuit for the first time, commencing a journey that is now into its seventh season.

Haas F1 Team drivers Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher have widespread experience of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Back in 2013 Magnussen secured the Formula Renault 3.5 title with a double win at the venue and he has since taken part in six grands prix in Spain, recording a best of sixth with Haas F1 Team in 2018. Schumacher gained his first Spanish Grand Prix experience in 2021, having previously finished on the podium at the track in his title-winning 2020 Formula 2 season.

The Miami Grand Prix was clearly a missed opportunity for the team, having had both drivers run in the points during the race. How do you keep focus on the positives and what's to come rather than dwelling on what might've been?
Guenther Steiner: "It was quite disappointing in both qualifying and the race, but we need to keep positive. The positives are the car is good, we just need to get it on the right set-up, getting the tires to work properly and the car is right there. As you could see during the race in Miami, we made up positions until the safety car came out and then we fell back. That's what you have to focus on - staying confident that we have a good machine and that we will make the points that we want to make."

Haas F1 Team moves to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the Spanish Grand Prix - the location of the first pre-season test this year. There might not be a big advantage / disadvantage for drivers having / not having tested there, but for the team preparing the race strategy and run plans, is there a benefit to having mileage under the belt with these new cars?
GS: "Coming to Spain and knowing that we have been there, I wouldn't say it's an advantage compared to the other teams as everybody has been there and knows Spain very well. For us, going there and knowing we've run there, and we ran strong and had a good set-up, at least we go there confident. When we get there and start on the right foot, we usually put ourselves into a good position for qualifying and the race, so let's hope it happens this time as well."

Barcelona is usually the time of the year when teams start to bring substantial upgrades to packages, do you expect the grid to stay in the same order as the first five races or do you think this is where we'll see changes in the pecking order, and where does Haas F1 Team fit into that?
GS: "As you say, normally Spain is the obvious place to bring upgrades and I think quite a few teams are planning them. I don't know how much difference they will make on each car and what they will bring. We have decided to wait a little bit longer with upgrades as I still think we have performance in the car without them which we have to get on the track, so sometimes we achieve it, sometimes we don't. We have a good upgrades package in about four or five races coming, so I'm confident about that and what the other ones are bringing, as of right now I don't know, but I will know a lot more next Monday."

Haas F1 Team returns to Europe for Round 6 of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship - the Spanish Grand Prix. This will be the second time the VF-22 has run around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya after pre-season testing in February, but it will be your first experience of it. Does that put you at a disadvantage to those who have already driven over a hundred laps in this year's car?
Kevin Magnussen: "Barcelona is probably the Formula 1 track I know the best out of all of them. I don't think it's going to be such a big disadvantage not having driven there in testing. The car is performing well, it's been very good at four of the five tracks we've been at, so I think it's going to do well there too."

With a mixture of high and low-speed corners, there's a reason why this circuit is used for testing. After five races, would you say you fully understand the car now and are able to manage its strengths and weaknesses?
KM: "Our car is pretty good all-round - it's been good in wet conditions, dry conditions and intermediate. It's like always, you need to get the car into the window, and I think we've done a decent job of that this year."

Your best finish at the Spanish Grand Prix came in 2018 with Haas when you secured sixth place. Do you think you can continue the good form that you've been managing so far this season?
KM: "I think we can be pretty happy with the start to the year that we've had. There's always things you could've done better and certainly this year, that's the case too but it's not been a bad start and we're looking forward to the rest of the year."

Barcelona is usually the time of the year when teams start to bring substantial upgrades to packages, do you expect the grid to stay in the same order as the first five races or do you think this is where we'll see changes in the pecking order, and where does Haas F1 Team fit into that?
KM: "I think there's probably a good chance that the competitive order is going to change around a little bit this year. We've seen Mercedes out of shape, sometimes Alfa Romeo has been up there almost with podium pace and other times we've been up there, so the competition is very tight, and I think it's going to make for an interesting season. It's not fun if you know that you can't be competitive and this time there is no way to say that you can't be competitive, everyone has a chance. I think it's way more interesting and a lot more fun - I'm certainly enjoying my time."

Haas F1 Team returns to Europe for Round 6 of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship - the Spanish Grand Prix. This will be the second time the VF-22 has run around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya after pre-season testing in February. Do you think that puts you at an advantage for this weekend, already knowing the traits of the car around this track?
Mick Schumacher: "If it puts us at an advantage, I wouldn't think so, at least not more compared to the other teams and drivers - it will be the same for everybody at the end. We will maybe have to learn the track less but anyway we don't need to learn the track as we've driven there so much in the past that it's like printed in my brain in a way. The track conditions will be very different, the temperature is probably 20 degrees different to when we tested there, so the entire way the tire works will shift as well. I think that the advantage is maybe there minimally, not because we've tested there but because we know the track so well."

With a mixture of high and low-speed corners, there's a reason why this circuit is used for testing. After five races, would you say you fully understand the car now and are able to manage its strengths and weaknesses?
MS: "I don't think we understand the car 100 percent yet - I think nobody does - because we are still trying to figure out reasons why the car behaves as it does and try to understand them. We also have updates that come in and those can make it difficult to understand it further because you keep on developing. If the car stayed the same, then you'd perhaps know it a bit better after five races just because it's the same, but we're constantly changing to try and make it faster. The track has a lot of great characteristics in how the tire usually degrades and how the car behaves so I'm looking forward to it and I'm quite excited."

Your best finish at the Spanish Grand Prix came in the 2020 FIA Formula 2 Championship when you achieved third place. Coming back to circuits where you have much more experience, does it give you confidence that you can extract the full potential from the VF-22?
MS: "Hopefully, but it's the same for most drivers - they've all driven a lot on that track. In the past the track hasn't always been super good to me, but things can change and hopefully they do for the better."

Barcelona is usually the time of the year when teams start to bring substantial upgrades to packages, do you expect the grid to stay in the same order as the first five races or do you think this is where we'll see changes in the pecking order, and where does Haas F1 Team fit into that?
MS: "I'm sure we've already seen quite a few changes, teams are still very close together and that's what we want to see, that's what this whole change was about in the end. I think we've managed to get there and hopefully by the end of the season the spread isn't going to be bigger but actually smaller, and teams still fight heavily between each other and that the midfield pack catches up to the top two teams, which are Ferrari and Red Bull at the moment, that the gap gets smaller and we're able to fight with them. The pace that we had at the end of the race in Imola definitely showed that we were close to them on one lap pace, but race pace is so different when comparing the midfield and top teams, it will be interesting but exciting times ahead."

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