Q&A with Simone Resta, Haas F1 Team Technical Director
"Joining Haas represented a new fresh challenge"
Following the relaunch of Formula 1 regulations set to be used by teams from 2022, Uralkali Haas F1 Team will be releasing a series of content and updates on the creation of the VF-22 and the team behind a new era of racing for the American F1 team. In the first of two conversations, we caught up with Technical Director, Simone Resta who introduces the team behind the VF-22, priorities and how building a new car is as much about people as it is machines…
You joined the Uralkali Haas F1 Team in January, 2021. What drew you to join Formula 1’s American team?
“Joining Haas represented a new fresh challenge and I decided to accept it when it was offered. It’s a very interesting professional opportunity to be part of a young and ambitious growing team.”
When there is a big regulation change that will affect numerous areas of the car, when does work stop on the current car and the team start looking forward? How does the VF-22 come to life, as the genesis of a Formula 1 car is rarely shared…
“Originally this big regulation change was planned for 2021, then when the COVID pandemic hit our sport, it was decided to postpone the introduction of the new regulations to 2022 including several changes. At the same time the aerodynamic development on this platform was frozen for the remaining part of 2020.
“When this decision was taken, Haas was at a point of having done just some small development work, so in 2021, it has been basically a fresh restart on those regulations.
“As previously mentioned, I joined the team in January this year and I started working with the team on the new technical organization almost from scratch, being quite involved in the recruitment process to form the technical organization, reviewing roles and decision-making process, and in parallel doing minimal work needed to legalize the VF-21.
There are a lot of people involved in the creation of a new car – can you share some details on the groups and key figures?
“I feel very lucky having the opportunity of working with a group of very talented engineers, with a few of them having even joined the team together with me. If you look at my first line of reports, there is Andrea Da Zordo (Chief Designer), Matteo Piraccini (Head of Chassis Engineering), Arron Melvin (Head of Aerodynamics), Maurizio Bocchi (Performance Development Manager), then we have Ayao Komatsu, (Director of Engineering) and Ben Agathangelou (Head of Engineering Operations).
“That’s the set-up of the group, I’m physically located in Italy together with most of the technical group, whilst Ayao, travelling to all races, is located in Banbury together with his department.
“In addition to our core Haas team, we’ve got an important component from Dallara, based in Italy. The extent of the collaboration has been slightly reduced if compared to 2019, but this collaboration remains strategical for us, thanks to the support on design, aero and wind tunnel engineering related activities.
“The technical group is distributed in four main offices, two in Maranello (Ferrari area), one in Varano (Dallara) and another one in Banbury.”
How do you prioritize? If something comes up that you think needs more time spent on, does something else need to give?
“It’s always a compromise as we operate with finite resources, and with the introduction of the budget cap in our sport, it will bring more and more of those compromises in to play. The chassis project choices are being made mainly between Andrea and Matteo, with the support of Ben regarding legality and planning. The responsibility to drive forward the aerodynamic development program is part of Arron Melvin’s mission. In his daily business, he’s supported by two principal aerodynamicists, Juan Molina and Rhodri Moseley, who are managing several aero team leaders in charge of all the areas of the car.
“The vehicle performance is a daily business for the whole technical organization, but it’s worth mentioning Maurizio and Ayao as two key players.
“To make an example, if we think about aerodynamic development, at every point in time we can imagine to have two separate groups developing in parallel the new car and the current year car. In 2021, this is an exception as Haas team has made the strategic choice to focus the efforts on the new 2022 car development almost completely.
“Finally, at Haas we strongly believe in empowerment. Each engineer is responsible for his own area or component, and the structure duty is to make sure the colleagues working in each area are executing and staying on plan. That’s our business.”
It sounds as much of a people management business as it is a technical business?
“It’s like technical management. There’s a lot of management, process, organization, HR related work – together with a mix of complex technical choices, tools development, planning and, last but not least, pure racing.”
You’ve been involved in a lot of car builds and regulation changes over your career. What ignites the fire inside you and what is addictive about the business of Formula 1?
“I believe that the introduction of a new set of regulations represents a unique chance for the team to develop ideas from scratch, as there are no references with existing cars. You can see in each engineer’s eyes the fire and ambition to prove they can come up with the best design or concept. In a way there are many common elements and situations between new car projects, but it’s also true that they are all different as the conditions are not the same. With a new set of regulations you are trying to develop something that does not exist yet - this is very exciting - and having learned from previous experiences is a key element when affording new challenges aiming to maximize the team result.
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