Monaco GP 2021 - Haas F1 preview

Team quotes

Search

By Olivier Ferret

17 May 2021 - 15:01
Monaco GP 2021 - Haas F1 preview

Uralkali Haas F1 Team is ready to go racing in the streets for the first time in two years as the FIA Formula 1 World Championship gears up for the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix.

The Automobile Club de Monaco, having already founded a popular rally, opted to turn the prestigious streets of the Principality into a temporary race facility in 1929, at the wisdom of Antony Noghes. It quickly became a prominent fixture on the motor-racing scene, its status elevated by the challenging layout and desirable location, attracting the elite to the glamorous Riviera. It was included on the inaugural Formula 1 calendar in 1950 and was a permanent fixture from 1955 through 2019, not running in 2020 – its first absence in 65 years – due to the pandemic.

The Circuit de Monaco is a stern test for all drivers given the perilously close nature of the barriers, the evolution of the tarmac across the course of the weekend, and the importance of hooking up a qualifying lap. Track position is of the utmost importance, given that passing is at a premium, while in terms of set-up teams favor mechanical grip.

Gone are the days when hay bales, lamp posts and a sheer drop into the harbor would mark the circuit edge, but the layout itself remains largely recognizable when compared to the 1929 layout, taking competitors past iconic landmarks such as the Sainte-Dévote Chapel, Hotel de Paris and Casino de Monte-Carlo. While at 3.3km it is the shortest circuit on the calendar it is one of the busiest and most challenging for those behind the steering wheel. The margin between delight and despair can be measured in mere millimeters in Monaco.

For Uralkali Haas F1 Team rookies Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher it will be their first experience of the Circuit de Monaco in Formula 1 machinery, though both have proper knowledge of the venue from 2019, when they competed in FIA Formula 2. Mazepin secured a top 10 finish in both races while Schumacher started third after a strong qualifying display.

As per Monaco’s traditions free practice one and two will take place on Thursday, with Friday a rest day for Formula 1, ahead of the usual format for the remainder of the weekend.

Günther Steiner

While it’s early in their Formula 1 careers, what are your key observations regarding the progress made by both Nikita and Mick in bedding in with the team so far?

“At the moment we’re very happy with how they’re getting along with the team. You can always get better, but we’re at a very good point, and the relationships with the people they work directly with are improving – they’ve started off on a good foot and it’s just a work in progress. There are a lot of people working in a Formula 1 team and the drivers need to get to know them better, especially the people that work directly with them. Up to now though it’s been very positive progress.”

How big a challenge, in your opinion, is the Monaco Grand Prix for rookie drivers – not least as for Nikita and Mick it’s only their fifth career start in Formula 1? What are the specific briefings the team will give the drivers to prepare for their maiden Monte Carlo starts?

“Regarding the briefing – stay out of the walls and off the barriers. That’s what we’ll let them know. Once you’re in the barriers in Monaco, your session is lost. You cannot get the car back and it’s normally pretty damaged anyway. The challenge is big. It’s a very tight circuit, it’s obviously a street circuit, and you’ve got lots of people watching – everything you don’t want on a race like this. On the other side, you do want it though, that’s why we’re doing it. There should be little pressure on the drivers there as we know our performance. They should be looking at the race just to gain experience so when they return with a better car they’ll have learned how to deal with Monaco – which is obviously a very special race in the Formula 1 calendar.”

Having missed out on a Monaco Grand Prix last season, how good is it for the sport to be seen to returning to one of its marquee events and with the introduction of a limited number of fans each day?

“Going to Monaco is always fantastic. It’s a historic event – the most historic event in my opinion for Formula 1, and it’s good for Monte Carlo as well that we’re back there. It’s open for business again. As much as we deal with the challenges and issues of the limited space, all the logistics there and so on, to be back is fantastic. To have fans there, at least a small amount of them, it’s very good. We’re really looking forward to it.”

Monaco was the scene of the team’s first-ever double points score in 2017 with Grosjean eighth and Magnussen 10th. As one of the early milestone moments in the team’s short history – how memorable was that result and did it have added significance coming on the hard-fought streets of Monte Carlo?

“This year we’ll be far off coming home eighth and 10th, we know that, and we can deal with that – we’re patient. Thinking back to 2017 though, it was very cool to have achieved that result in Monaco. It was another first for the team, and they kept coming at that time. We want to get back to that performance level. So, good memories, but we’re looking forward to the future of the team, to be able to do those things again and to be able to do it better.”

Nikita Mazepin

Monaco holds a special place in the history of Formula 1. What does it mean to you personally as a driver to be making your first Formula 1 start at such an iconic venue?

“It is always very special to race in Monaco, regardless of the car, because it’s a city that transfers into a racing circuit then back again – that’s something special. However, to debut in Formula 1, it’s definitely cool but also very challenging.”

Are there any moments from Formula 1’s back catalogue of Monaco highlights that stand out for you? Are there any driver performances in particular that you’ve admired watching the Monaco Grand Prix growing up?

“I very well remember when Lewis (Hamilton) and Max (Verstappen) had a fight in 2019 – with Lewis victorious with almost no tires left. I was at the circuit then; I saw it myself and I found it very special.”

You had a pair of top 10 finishes in Monaco back in 2019 in your first season of F2 competition. Is the key to success in Monaco a good qualifying performance knowing the challenges of the track layout for overtaking? Is your focus with your race engineers qualifying first, race second?

“Yes, I had a very good time in Monaco in F2 – unfortunately we didn’t go back there last year. I think it’s a track that’s rather good for me. With the engineers you obviously focus on qualifying first because on a circuit like that qualifying is super important with very little opportunity to overtake.”

How much of a driver’s circuit is Monaco and for you in particular, what stands out as the biggest challenge arriving at your first street circuit in Formula 1 with just four race starts under your belt in the VF-21?

“I would say Monaco is mostly a driver’s circuit in regards to making mistakes, but having a good car with a lot of downforce is important – so therefore this year I’m expecting quite a big challenge. In regard to having four race starts under our belt in the VF-21 before Monaco, well, we don’t get to chose the calendar so it is what it is.”

The Monaco Grand Prix will see a limited number of fans return to the grandstands. Just how different is it for you to have been racing recently without the atmosphere that the fans bring to an event?

“It’s obviously been a long time since the grandstands have been properly full. It’s really a shame that people can’t be there as the atmosphere has not been the same. So, I’m happy that F1 is making its first steps to opening the doors.”

Mick Schumacher

Monaco holds a special place in the history of Formula 1. What does it mean to you personally as a driver to be making your first Formula 1 start at such an iconic venue?

“It’s a historical circuit and a challenging track too. Obviously, it’s a place every racing car driver in general is excited to go to or experience at least just once. I have experienced it in Formula 2 – that was for the first time back in 2019 and I loved it. I’m immensely looking forward to it this year driving in Formula 1.”

Are there any moments from Formula 1’s back catalogue of Monaco highlights that stand out for you? Are there any driver performances in particular that you’ve admired watching the Monaco Grand Prix growing up?

“You probably won’t find a Monaco twice, if that makes sense – you will never find the same race or same weekend twice there. It’s always special, there’s always something happening – something different happening. I wouldn’t really know which race to pick out to be honest. In general, it’s always a crazy performance from every driver to drive Monaco. It’s a real challenge there when you’re so close to the wall every time for over 70 laps. Mentally it’s super hard, super difficult, but it’s a challenge and that’s why it’s so fun to go to such a track. I’m really looking forward to it.”

You raced in Monaco back in 2019 in your first season of F2 competition. What was it like for you to be part of the Grand Prix weekend there that season and to be racing on the streets of Monte Carlo for the first time?

“Formula 2 was obviously quite a notch slower than Formula 1, so I’m excited to feel how it’s going to be in a Formula 1 car. The Formula 2 car, in general, is still a very fast car, and it’s a heavy car, but it’s alive and moving a lot. It was definitely a challenge and fun for me to experience Monaco. I’d only gone to Baku before and Macau, which is quite similar, in terms of street circuits. To have been part of the Monaco weekend in general was great for me. Seeing Formula 1 drive there was great but to be there in Formula 2 was also special for me to experience it and to learn from it.”

How much of a driver’s circuit is Monaco and for you in particular, what stands out as the biggest challenge arriving at your first street circuit in Formula 1 with just four race starts under your belt in the VF-21?

“It’s definitely a driver’s circuit – the driver can make the difference there. Obviously, if you have a car that you trust, one that you feel comfortable in, most likely that will help you go into Monaco, and into FP1, with somewhat more of an open mind to learn the track. If you also have to learn the car, or if you’re not comfortable in the car, that definitely makes it a lot more difficult. I’m super comfortable in the car and I’m excited to learn how to drive around Monaco in the VF-21.”

The Monaco Grand Prix will see a limited number of fans return to the grandstands. Just how different is it for you to have been racing recently without the atmosphere that the fans bring to an event?

“It’s going to be nice to have some atmosphere back at the track even if it’s not to the extent it would usually be. Hopefully in the next few weeks and months we’ll kind of get back to a normal life – obviously that goes for everything. But, it’s definitely great to start off small and have it on the safer side, better to be safe than sorry. I’ve been racing without an atmosphere at track since last season like everybody else. I’ve been missing that. I’ve missed having fans at track and seeing them enjoying us racing and cheering if we do well. Let’s get that back soon, if not fully this season then hopefully by next season.”

Haas F1

Formula 1 news

Pics

Videos

expand_less