French GP: Preview – Haas


Haas F1 Team will continue its 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season with the French Grand Prix, held at Circuit Paul Ricard, which begins the second half of the campaign.

France has a rich history in motor-racing, with the first internationally recognized race taking place in 1894, before the term Grand Prix was formally conceived in 1906. It was part of the first Formula 1 World Championship season in 1950, with road circuits Reims, Rouen, Clermont Ferrand and Le Mans’ Bugatti Circuit all holding events in the nascent decades.

In 1973 France’s grand prix shifted to permanent circuits, alternating between Dijon-Prenois and Circuit Paul Ricard, until Magny-Cours took over the mantle in 1991. France dropped off the calendar after 2008, citing financial issues, but returned at a reprofiled Circuit Paul Ricard in 2018.

Located on a plateau above the vineyards and lavender fields of Provence, Circuit Paul Ricard was initially renovated as a high-speed test track. At the turn of the century it had innovative concepts, such as trackside sprinklers, and multi-layered run-off in the form of dazzling red and blue stripes designed to reduce car speed at the expense of tire degradation.

Circuit Paul Ricard’s original function as a test facility means it has over 150 possible configurations and Formula 1 utilizes the 5.8km Grand Prix layout, which features the North Chicane along the Mistral Straight.

Haas F1 Team racers Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher have between them participated in three French grands prix. Magnussen finished sixth upon Circuit Paul Ricard’s return in 2018, while Schumacher secured the first Q2 appearance of his Formula 1 career in 2021’s round.

Haas F1 Team enters the second half of the season in a strong vein of form, having scored 19 points across the last two grands prix, to hold seventh in the Constructors’ Championship.

The team scored back-to-back double-points at Silverstone and the Red Bull Ring. It’s another accomplishment for the team this season – what do those results mean for you and what’s your take on the current form of the team heading into these last two races before the break?
Guenther Steiner: “I’m very happy about it but I’m very happy about it for the team because I’ve told them that they need to believe in themselves because we’ve done it before and we will do it again, and we have so it’s a very good result. I think we have to be careful about getting too overenthusiastic for the next races, so we’re not thinking that this will keep continuing easily – this is very hard work from a lot of people. We will do the best we can and hopefully we can get some more points and have quite a relaxed summer break.”

Would you say the Austrian Grand Prix was as close to a perfect weekend as Haas has had in recent memory with strong practice results, Q3 entries for both cars in qualifying, points scored in the Sprint on Saturday and a double-points finish on Sunday? Just how hard is it to achieve consistency across an entire race weekend and what helps put all the different elements together?
GS: “I would say it’s an almost perfect weekend, there’s always margin to do better in racing until you win everything, but nobody wins everything all of the time. It was a very good weekend and everything was executed as best as we could, there were no real mistakes, nothing done wrong. Every little step can be better so we move up and one day, hopefully coming soon, we’ll get a podium. To pull this together it’s a bunch of people working hard, there’s no secret, it’s just everybody doing their job.”

Haas F1 Team has leapt to seventh in the Constructors’ Championship with 19 points scored in the last two events alone. With missed opportunities earlier in the season for a variety of reasons, do you feel the team’s standing should be higher and are you reassessing 2022’s goals based on recent results?
GS: “I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but if we can keep seventh, or to end up sixth – it would be nice. I think anything above sixth will be very difficult because the other teams are very good and they’re a little bit far ahead, if we can keep on going as we are going, obviously we will not have the perfect race weekends like the last two with both cars scoring points, but we just need to keep on working hard and maybe we can achieve sixth. First of all, we need to make sure that we stay seventh.”

With the VF-22 showing itself to be versatile on a variety of circuits – what are the expectations for this weekend’s French Grand Prix at Circuit Paul Ricard. Is this a track that will also suit the characteristics of the VF-22 and just how important is the momentum being carried to France off the back of points in the previous two races?
GS: “For sure, motivation is very high within the team after two weekends like we had in Silverstone and Austria. Our car is pretty good everywhere, I think our weakest point is high-speed tracks like those in Jeddah and Baku and coming up in Spa and Monza. I’m very confident that if we execute well, we can have points again. I don’t know how many but the reliability in the last two races was good and hopefully it will stay good for the next events before the summer.”

For Round 12 of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship, Haas F1 Team heads to the French Riviera. You scored sixth place on Formula 1’s return to France in 2018 – is it a track with characteristics you like, or does it simply provide more opportunity to try different racing lines thanks to its wide run-offs?
Kevin Magnussen: “France is a pretty unique circuit because it’s very flat, it’s quite wide in places and you have a lot of run off. It feels different driving there compared to other tracks. We had a good result back in 2018 and it’s always nice going back to places where you’ve had good experiences in the past, so I’m hoping for more good results.”

When thinking about Paul Ricard, the different colored markings around the track have become synonymous with the circuit. With it being the first time using the new Pirelli tires on this track, how cautious will you be during that first practice session?
KM: “It’s been a while now since I’ve raced a Formula 1 car around there so in FP1 I’m going to find my rhythm again and on this track with all the run off there’s no real risk from going straight out and pushing, so I’ll be doing that.”

Paul Ricard is a circuit where you can really test the limits of the car before exceeding track limits. Will this be a good test to extract the full potential of the VF-22 ahead of upgrades in the next race?
KM: “It will likely be one of, or the last race we do with this package before getting the upgrades so we’re sort of at the end of the life of this package but there is still stuff that we’re finding out, but it’s obviously getting less and less every race. The gains we are finding are becoming less but we’ll still be looking to find whatever gains we can and extract the most out of what we’ve got.”

We’re halfway through this run of four races in the month of July – how are you finding such a rapid succession of races and in your opinion does this contribute to being in peak physical condition or in an ideal world would you have longer to recover and prepare?
KM: “At this stage, it’s good to have as many races as possible for my fitness. My fitness is pretty good now, just when I’m in the gym or working out but when I’m in the car it’s all neck basically – 80/20 neck. Having all those races close together is very good for building that neck strength.”

For Round 12 of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship, Haas F1 Team heads to the French Riviera. Last year was a relatively quiet race for you but is it a track with characteristics you like or does it simply provide more opportunity to try different racing lines thanks to its wide run-offs?
Mick Schumacher: “For sure it’s a track where usually you have the opportunity to push quite hard just because you know that you can go over a certain limit sometimes. It’s one of those tracks where you can push harder than other tracks just because you know you have the run off and the chances of you getting near a wall is quite slim. Obviously, if you do a mistake, it’s quite bad for the tires so you obviously don’t want to do it in an important session, but definitely it’s a track that is quite interesting. It can be confusing at times due to all the different lines, so it’s not just viewers that get confused, it can also be the drivers too.”

Paul Ricard is a circuit where you can really test the limits of the car before exceeding track limits. Will this be a good test to extract the full potential of the VF-22 ahead of upgrades in the race?
MS: “We’re always trying to improve our car or we’re always trying to adapt our car to different places. I think we understand our package pretty well but we’re still trying to maximize it further and learn more from it and see how we can make it quicker. I don’t think Paul Ricard is a special track to do that, it’s a track like any other track. We have fewer quick corners there – there’s just one quick corner – which is usually flat anyways in any downforce, so it’s a matter of exploiting the speeds on a straight which we haven’t been great at this year. I imagine it’s going to be tough but in a Formula 1 race there is always a lot of action. Sometimes it can be quiet, and we are where we are, and sometimes there’s a lot of action and you can get through. We’ll just have to wait and see how the weekend develops and how we get on.”

France was the first time in your F1 career that you made it into Q2 in qualifying. Now, a couple of races after scoring your maiden points in Formula 1, how quickly has a year gone by and how does the Mick Schumacher of today feel compared to the rookie of last year?
MS: “Obviously I feel more experienced, I feel a bit more complete but there’s still a long way to go. It’s only my second year, there’s so much more to learn in Formula 1 besides racing and every day I try to exploit that to see where I can improve and where I still feel like I need work.”

We’re halfway through this run of four races in the month of July – how are you finding such a rapid succession of races and in your opinion does this contribute to being in peak physical condition or in an ideal world would you have longer to recover and prepare?
MS: “I think everybody would like to have more free time but at the end of the day, this is our job. I feel like even if we’re not at a race weekend, we’re always ready to work. It’s not as consistent as a 9-5 job but it varies, it’s a daily job.”





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