Italian GP 2021 - Haas F1 preview

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By Olivier Ferret

7 September 2021 - 11:41
Italian GP 2021 - Haas F1 preview

Uralkali Haas F1 Team is preparing for a third event in as many weeks and this time it’ll be fast and frenetic, with the high-speed Autodromo Nazionale Monza hosting Formula 1’s Italian Grand Prix.

No circuit in the world has been graced by Formula 1 machinery more often than Monza, with the track absent only once – in 1980 – since the inception of the world championship in 1950. Set within the grounds of the leafy Parco di Monza, with the Alps visible on a clear day, the venue is renowned for its high-speed sections, while the decaying banked oval continues to act as a memorial to the circuit’s history. It will be Formula 1’s second visit to Italy this year, following on from April’s trip to Imola, which held the Emilia Romagna event.

Modern Monza has remained largely untouched since the turn of the millennium, with lengthy straights punctuated by heavy braking zones, chicanes and a handful of medium-speed corners. The low-downforce packages sported by Formula 1 teams means speeds approaching 370km/h can be achieved while last season Lewis Hamilton covered 5.793km in just 1:18.887s to set a new fastest average lap speed record of 264.363km/h during qualifying.

Following on from its debut at Silverstone the second trial of F1 Sprint, a duration of 18 laps, will take place at Monza.

Uralkali Haas F1 Team duo Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher have both shone at Monza in their careers. Mazepin secured a podium finish in the GP3 Series in 2018 and last season improved 14 positions on his grid spot in Formula 2 to surge into the points. Schumacher, meanwhile, was too good for the opposition as he scorched to a brilliant Formula 2 Feature Race victory to set up his charge to the title.

Günther Steiner

As an Italian, just how special an event is the Italian Grand Prix for you and when did you first attend a race at Monza?

“Monza for me is the closest race to my hometown, so being Italian, it is big emotion. Monza is a great race on the calendar – it’s very historic. My first race there was when we finished third on the podium with Eddie Irvine and Jaguar. I would like to go back to those good old days.”

Given the Italian DNA that runs through Uralkali Haas F1 Team – do you believe Italy’s motorsport expertise rivals the likes of the United Kingdom’s ‘Motorsport Valley’?

“Absolutely. The car industry in Italy is and has always been big. There is motor valley now in the region of Emilia Romagna – there is a lot of expertise there – there is a lot of expertise in Turin about cars and there are two Formula 1 teams in Italy. Actually, two and a half as Haas is also there. After the UK, Italy is the biggest presence in Formula 1. There is a big history in Italy about motorsport and in the end, Ferrari is from there.”

This weekend will be the second event to feature the all-new Sprint format. What did you make of the Sprint at Silverstone and how will the team prepare differently now having experience of how an altered race weekend unfolds?

“The sprint qualifying in Silverstone was successful. I think there are always things to learn and how to do things better but there was not one big mistake we made, so we just try to get the whole process smoother and better and try to get the best out of it.”

Nikita Mazepin

Monza has held the Italian Grand Prix every year bar once since 1950. What does it mean to be able to race around a circuit with such history, nostalgia and passionate fans?

“Monza is a very cool place to be. Obviously very low downforce and high Formula 1 speeds will mean a new experience for me. Formula 2 was fast and we’re going to be even faster, so I’m looking forward to experiencing Ascari and Lesmo in a Formula 1 car.”

The circuit is nicknamed the temple of speed for good reason, with cars on full throttle for 80% of the lap. Having secured a podium finish during the 2018 GP3 Series, how do you tackle such conditions?

“The challenges in Formula 1 are very different to Formula 2 and Formula 3. I’m calm and open-minded to see what challenges present and what’s going to be difficult in a Formula 1 car in tackling the temple of speed.”

This weekend will be the second event to feature Sprint qualifying. What did you make of the format in Silverstone, and will you prepare differently now having experience of how an altered race weekend unfolds?

“I enjoyed the first Sprint qualifying and I’m looking forward to trying the next one this weekend. It will give us a little bit less time in free practice but I know the circuit quite well and I feel ready for it.”

Mick Schumacher

Monza has held the Italian Grand Prix every year bar once since 1950. What does it mean to be able to race around a circuit with such history, nostalgia and passionate fans?

“It means a lot of Ferrari fans – which is great! I know the Tifosi are a great bunch of people who really support the sport and they live the sport, which is nice because I’m a big fan of the sport also. To share that passion is great and I’m really looking forward to it, on top of being a part of the Ferrari Driver Academy, it’s great for me to go there and drive in front of the Tifosi.”

The circuit is nicknamed the temple of speed for good reason, with cars on full throttle for 80% of the lap. Having won here in Monza last year on your way to becoming Formula 2 Champion, how do you tackle such conditions?

“It’s a great place in general if you manage to set-up your car but also your strategy the right way – you can really benefit from it. Last year, I had a really good start, we managed to pull away from the field and were consistent. All of that helped to tackle those conditions and to be able to fight for the victory.”

This weekend will be the second event to feature Sprint qualifying. What did you make of the format in Silverstone, and will you prepare differently now having experience of how an altered race weekend unfolds?

“I think we can look forward to it. It will be interesting to see what we learned from the first event at Silverstone and be able to cope with it in a different way. For Monza it will definitely be interesting, as racing is always interesting there with a lot of overtaking and the passionate fans in the grandstands.”

As a Ferrari Academy driver, what added feelings does it bring to race in the Tifosi’s heartland?

“I’m very much looking forward to driving there. The Ferrari Driver Academy does give me a feel for how it is to drive in front of the Tifosi, being part of the Ferrari family. Definitely looking forward to it.”

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