Abu Dhabi GP: Preview - Haas


The 2020 Formula 1 season will come to a close at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on a landmark weekend for the Haas F1 Team.

In Australia in March the deepening coronavirus pandemic put the entire 2020 season at risk but thanks to the perseverance and planning of the FIA, Formula 1 and a multitude of determined organizers an overhauled calendar, with revised protocols and systems, was implemented. Amid the upheaval and uncertainty comes a sense of normality for Formula 1 as the Yas Marina Circuit will play host to the season finale for the ninth time, and seventh in succession.

The event will once more take place at twilight, with Yas Marina's floodlights illuminating the arena once the sun goes down beyond the desert horizon. Its centrepiece is the W Hotel, whose honeycombed lattice traverses the race track, equipped with 5,000 lights that shimmer as the night develops.

Haas F1 Team will this weekend be bidding a fond farewell to the Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen era. Grosjean was part of the team since its Formula 1 journey began in 2016, with Magnussen joining a year later, and together they have delivered some unforgettable moments. They include eight points on Haas F1 Team's debut courtesy of Grosjean, the team's first double-points score (Monaco Grand Prix 2017), highest race finish (fourth and fifth at the Austrian Grand Prix 2018) and Haas F1 Team's best Constructors' Championship classification of fifth overall in 2018, scoring 93 points.

While Grosjean cannot be present in Abu Dhabi, remaining at home in Switzerland to continue medical treatment on burns suffered to his hands in Bahrain, he will be in Haas F1 Team's thoughts throughout the weekend. Haas F1 Team wishes both Grosjean and Magnussen all the best in their future endeavors.

Pietro Fittipaldi will continue to sub for Grosjean at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix lining up alongside Magnussen. It is where Fittipaldi first drove Formula 1 machinery with Haas F1 Team, back in November 2018, when the Brazilian participated in the post-season test. Fittipaldi made his Formula 1 debut at the Sakhir Grand Prix, on December 6, classifying 17th.

This weekend's event will also bring up a century of races for Haas F1 Team. The first 99 rounds have taken Haas F1 Team to 27 different venues across the globe, yielded 200 points and a boxload of memories for all involved, with Haas F1 Team determined to strive for more accolades and achievements in the coming years.

And while it is the end of one era it is the beginning of another chapter with Haas F1 Team 2021 race driver and newly-crowned Formula 2 champion Mick Schumacher to step into the VF-20 for the first time on Friday to partake in FP1. Magnussen, who will vacate his car for FP1, will return to action from FP2 onwards.

The action will commence with two practice sessions on Friday, prior to final practice and qualifying on Saturday, with Sunday's 55-lap race set for 17:10 local time (08:10 EST/13:10 GMT).

Guenther Steiner: "First of all, I would like to thank all the people that have made it possible for us to get to 100 grands prix. Thinking back five years, when you start it - you never think you're going to be celebrating something, but reaching 100 grands prix, I think that's worth celebrating. Not many of the start-up teams in the last 10 or 20 years made it to that figure. I'd also like to thank specifically Gene (Haas) for making it happen. I'm very proud we've reached the mark and I'm very proud of us as a team.

"My thanks go out to our drivers too. Romain (Grosjean) unfortunately had to leave two grand prix early because of his incident in Bahrain, of which we were thankful for the outcome, and Kevin (Magnussen) has been with us the last four years and has been a big contributor to the growth of the team. I want to wish him good luck for the future. Both those guys will be remembered as part of the founding members of Haas F1.

"I want to wish good luck to Pietro (Fittipaldi) too for this weekend - he's participating in his second grand prix. Having not sat in a race car around 10 months, I thought it was a good performance last time out in Bahrain from him. He'll build and learn from that for this weekend. Finally, we're excited to have Mick (Schumacher) join us this weekend and participate in FP1 on Friday. It'll be good for him to start building relationships within the team and get a feel for the VF-20 before his test day on Tuesday."

Kevin Magnussen: "It's been a really enjoyable four years for me with Haas F1 Team. I've appreciated the support that the team has show me throughout that time. I'd like to thank Guenther (Steiner) and Gene (Haas) for giving me the opportunity and for showing me the commitment from the very beginning. We've achieved a lot. Of course, the last couple of seasons have been fairly frustrating, but all-in-all, if you look at the four years we've achieved some great results. I wish all the best for the team in the future."

Pietro Fittipaldi: "I'm thankful to the team for the opportunity they gave me last weekend in Bahrain. They did a great job, the engineers, the mechanics, everyone in fact, in helping me with all the things I needed to learn before the race. The first race was good. I have Kevin (Magnussen) as a reference, he's a great driver and he's been very supportive as well - Romain (Grosjean) too. Comparing the pace, I was very happy to be on a similar pace to Kevin.

"There are things to improve, such as running in traffic and dirty air. Those are things I'm definitely going to make a step forward on now in Abu Dhabi. The more laps I was doing, the more comfortable I was getting in the car. It's great to have the chance to have another race weekend. Coming into Abu Dhabi, I'm familiar with the track as I've tested there before in Formula 1 with Haas. Yas Marina is a track I enjoy so I'm looking forward to getting out on Friday in practice."

Mick Schumacher: "Coming from a weekend like the last one, there's only very few things to imagine which could be better than winning a championship - but then, having a weekend ahead, being a proper part of a F1 team and getting to drive the FP1 would probably count. I'm still really excited having won the F2 championship, and that excitement doesn't stop knowing I'll be with Haas F1 Team next year, and that I'll be driving for them for the first time on Friday.

"I'm looking forward to getting to know all of them, getting to understand how they approach and undergo a race weekend and starting this journey together with Haas F1 Team here in Abu Dhabi. I will soak in everything I can to the maximum, taking this weekend as a preparation for the experience to come next year. The good thing is that I don't have to be concerned about the weather this time, so I am confident I will go out during FP1, and I am very much looking forward to sharing the track with such great drivers."

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Published: 09/12/2020
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