Tuscan GP 2020 - GP preview - Haas F1

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By Olivier Ferret

8 September 2020 - 11:48
Tuscan GP 2020 - GP preview - Haas (...)

Haas F1 Team is ready for a third Formula One World Championship round in as many weeks, the second in succession in Italy, but the first in history that will take place at the Mugello Circuit.

Road racing has taken place in the region for a century and in 1974 a specially designed circuit was opened in Mugello, located in the Tuscan hills, within reach of the historic city of Florence. The 14-turn 5.245km circuit is famed for its medium and high-speed corners – and lengthy pit straight – that winds its way around the stunning Tuscan countryside, and for several decades it has been the scene of many famous moments in the MotoGP World Championship. But for the first time in its history it will host a Formula One grand prix and become the fourth Italian venue to welcome the sport, joining Monza, Imola and Pescara on an exclusive list. It will be the 99th time a World Championship event has been held on Italian soil – more than any country in history. It will also be a celebration of 1000 Formula One events for Haas F1 Team’s technical partner Ferrari.

The Tuscan Grand Prix will also mark a welcome return to spectators – albeit in limited capacity. After eight events with zero fans there will be up to 2,880 trackside fans each day at Mugello.

Romain Grosjean sampled Formula One machinery when the championship visited Mugello for in-season testing back in 2012. That outing came five years after the fresh-faced Frenchman triumphed from pole position at Mugello in his title-winning Formula 3 Euro Series campaign. Kevin Magnussen, meanwhile, is gearing up for his first taste of Tuscan tarmac aboard Haas F1 Team’s VF-20.

The Tuscan Grand Prix will take place across September 11 to 13, with two 90-minute practice sessions on Friday, final practice and a three-part qualifying hour on Saturday, the results of which set the grid for Sunday’s 59-lap grand prix. Lights out is due for 15:10 local time (09:10 EST/14:10 BST).

Günther Steiner

The race at Mugello, the ‘Formula 1 Gran Premio Della Toscana Ferrari 1000’ is named as a celebration of Ferrari’s 1000th Grand Prix. Haas F1 Team has obviously enjoyed a working relationship with Ferrari since its inception. Your thoughts please on Ferrari’s impact in Formula One and specifically with the growth and development of Haas F1 Team.

“Formula One without Ferrari would only be half of Formula One – that’s what we have to be honest about. They’ve been there since almost the beginning and they’re just such a big part of what Formula One is now. Honestly, without Ferrari we wouldn’t be here either. In the beginning when we tried to find a different way to do it, they were listening to us and entertaining us. We then found a solution where we could enter Formula One. Entering Formula One without a partner, starting from nothing, it’s almost impossible – I’m not saying impossible, there’s always someone that can do the impossible. Put simply though, without them, we wouldn’t be here. Our relationship with Ferrari was always very good, and it’s continued to improve with time.”

What feedback have the team and your drivers given you in terms of what to expect performance-wise from Mugello’s layout based on their own preparations, simulation runs and track analysis?

“Mugello’s more like a traditional circuit, as I would call it, not like Spa and Monza which are high speed circuits. Hopefully we can perform a little bit better there with it not being so power sensitive. I think it’s good that we’re going there. We also have to remember that this is the first time a Formula One race has been held there. Being a new track, as is normal, I’m sure some surprises will come up. I’m hoping we’ll have some good surprises.”

The Tuscan Grand Prix marks the ninth event in 11 weekends for Formula One. What are your thoughts on the intensity of the current run of races and what has been the impact on both yourself – from a managerial perspective, and the team operationally?

“Thinking back several months ago when we came back from Australia – nobody knew if we’d even go racing again this year. I think there’s been a great job done by everybody to get this amount of races in. For sure they don’t come for free now because we did nothing for three months and now we have to catch up fitting in 17 races into the season. There was obviously a big effort put in to get them organized, but it’s pretty tiring to have triple-headers. The hardest working guys, they don’t go home. Managers and some of the staff can go home between races, and at least it gives them a little bit of time off to see family. The hardest working guys like the mechanics and engineers, they’re staying at the races to get the garage and cars ready again for the next race. It is pretty tough.

“Going forward this is not sustainable in my opinion. We can do it this year as we have the energy harvested from having the three months off, or at least not doing a lot, because we were under the FIA shutdown. On a normal calendar you couldn’t do this, it would just wear people out. Nobody would want to work like this. There’s no enjoyment not to see your family for almost three or four weeks, as is the case for some of the guys that come out early and go home late. We can handle it this year but going forward it would be very difficult. I don’t think there is a plan to do a lot of triple-headers in the future though.”

After the checkered flag drops at Mugello is there an opportunity for the team to reset and prepare for the second half of the season knowing the flow of races returns to a regular pace starting with the Russian Grand Prix?

“Absolutely. For everybody going home after Mugello and getting a week at home, then having one race and going home again – it’s a great feeling, it is for me. We love going racing but when it’s continuously you miss other things. It is important to have a social life as well. I think the rest of the season, with the exception of the final triple-header in Bahrain and Abu Dhabi, it is at least more normal than the last two months. I think everybody’s looking forward to it and when we reach that final triple-header, everybody will put their last bit of energy into it to finish up.”

Romain Grosjean

Back in 2012 you participated in a mid-season Formula One test at Mugello – setting the fastest time of 1:21.035 in your Lotus-Renault. What do you remember of the track in terms of the layout, the challenges, and how fast do you think the 2020 Formula One cars will go there?

“The layout is absolutely outstanding. The region, first of all, it’s beautiful, and then the track is built in such a way that you go up and then down a little bit. It’s very fast, there aren’t any low speed corners. There’s mid-to-high speed corners, a very long straight line. The two Arrabbiatta corners are absolutely outstanding. I think with the 2020 cars it’s just going to be bloody awesome.”

While 2020’s revised calendar simply couldn’t afford any in-season testing, were you a fan of those tests once the season was up and running and what were the key benefits in that added run time amidst the Grand Prix action?

“I don’t mind going testing in mid-season, but I also don’t mind not testing mid-season either. I guess both are fine with me. I think it’s always great to be able to have testing, especially if you’re bringing parts to the car. For us, we’re not really bringing any upgrades, so it wouldn’t do much for us just now to have in-season testing.”

The Tuscan Grand Prix marks the ninth event in 11 weekends for Formula One. What are your thoughts on the intensity of the current run of races and what has been the impact on both yourself and the team?

“It’s been really intense. After the previous triple-header it took me a week to get back to some kind of form, I’d be having a siesta and then a long night every day. I guess it’s the same for the team, and I have to say the guys are doing an amazing job, especially for us as we don’t have that extra bit of happiness when you win races – you can surf on that euphoria. We don’t have that, which obviously makes it a bit harder.”

After the checkered flag drops at Mugello is there an opportunity to mentally reset and prepare for the second half of the season knowing the flow of races returns to a regular pace starting with the Russian Grand Prix – and specifically what will your preparations consist of?

“I guess so. I think the first thing is that the week after Mugello I’ll rest again and then start to get ready for Russia. I have to find out how I’m going to travel to Russia – it’s not as easy as we’d like. We’ll then, as you say, get into more of a normal rhythm, which should make it a little easier. There’s a bit more traveling but it’s not too crazy. We’re going to some really cool tracks, and I’ll pack my winter jacket for going to the Nürburgring. The best preparation you can have is to be driving the cars.”

Kevin Magnussen

You’ve spent some time in the simulator running the Mugello circuit. What are your impressions of the layout, the challenges, and how fast do you think the 2020 Formula One cars will go there?

“In the simulator I found that the track was really cool. It’s pretty unique and different. It’s a very fast, flowing track. It’s going to be great fun in these high downforce cars. I also think it’s going to be pretty tough on the tires with all those high-energy corners. Overtaking is probably going to be difficult, but there is a long straight so it’s maybe not entirely impossible. Certainly, following another car through all those high-speed corners, it’s going to be a challenge.”

Unlike the addition of Imola later in the season, where you’ll be limited to just one practice session ahead of qualifying, at Mugello it’s a regular three-day race weekend with two Friday practice sessions. Would you have preferred, for example, the opportunity to either run an older Formula One car or a junior formula car on-track beforehand, or will Friday’s practice sessions afford enough time to dial into the circuit?

“It wouldn’t have hurt to do a day or two in another formula car around Mugello. On the other hand, with the three sessions you’ll have plenty of time to learn the track. After doing a sim day you get a pretty good idea of what to expect. I’m not too worried about it, but every little bit helps.”

The Tuscan Grand Prix marks the ninth event in 11 weekends for Formula One. What are your thoughts on the intensity of the current run of races and what has been the impact on both yourself and the team?

“It’s been great really for me, I’ve enjoyed it. It was good to get the season going and I think it’s been nice to get a lot of races done and to get back into it with all these races in a short space of time. I have to say, I feel for the team, and especially the guys in the garage working on the car. It must have been a really tough run for them. They haven’t seen their families much and they’ve been working some big hours to get the car ready for all these races. I feel for them and I think it’ll be good for them to get some time off soon.”

After the checkered flag drops at Mugello is there an opportunity to mentally reset and prepare for the second half of the season knowing the flow of races returns to a regular pace starting with the Russian Grand Prix – and specifically what will your preparations consist of?

“It’ll be good to get over these triple-headers and be a little quieter. For myself, it means I’ll have a bit more time between the races to kind of get into a rhythm with my fitness and training. It’ll also allow me just to see friends and family a bit more. It’ll be good to get there.”

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