About Haas Automation

Haas F1 Race Report:
Singapore Grand Prix | 9/17/2017

by Ayao Komatsu|Chief Race Engineer, Haas F1 Team


“The car performance was not very strong throughout the weekend. We could not get the front and rear tires to work consistently, which meant the car was quite unpredictable to drive. On top of this, Romain Grosjean was not happy with brakes, which made the situation even more difficult. We never finished any of the sessions above P15, so we needed a chaotic race to have a chance of scoring points. That is what happened on Sunday and we managed to get Romain home in P9 with a couple of good pit stops. Kevin Magnussen had a good race up to the point when he got overtaken by Esteban Ocon (Force India). He eventually retired due to an ERS (Energy Recovery System) related issue.”

Friday: FP1 and FP2

“Antonio Giovinazzi was in the car following his FP1 outings in Silverstone and Budapest. He did a very good job here considering he had never driven at the track before. We ran two sets of supersoft tires in FP1. After the first run, Antonio was around .7 of a second slower than Romain, which is totally expected as a rookie on this street circuit. His next run on the second set of new tires was impressive. He went .5 of a second quicker than Romain on his ideal (best sectors) lap time. During the session, he evaluated front suspension setup and rear ride change, and gave us good feedback. He will drive again in Sepang.

“Romain started FP1 with Carbon Industrie (C.I.) brakes. However, after the first run, it was obvious that the brakes were running too hot to be able to race. Hence, we decided to go back to Brembo for the rest of the session. He really struggled with brake locking after this point, as well as understeer in low-speed corners.

“In FP2, Romain’s balance issue (excessive understeer) continued. His driving style relies on being able to brake late, throw the car into a corner and get on the power as soon as possible. So, when the front does not respond, he finds it very difficult to get performance out of the car. His brake locking continued to be an issue and his high-fuel pace on supersofts was poor. Kevin was dealing with the condition better and was consistently quicker than Romain despite of missing FP1. His comments were more focused on snap oversteer on corner exits. The tricky thing was that the car behaved very differently at different points on the track, suggesting we really were not using the tires properly. His high-fuel run on ultrasofts was quite poor, initially. However, the pace improved significantly later in the run.”

Saturday: FP3 and Qualifying

“Overnight, we worked on the setups to improve front performance for Romain, as well as trying to get the rear tires to work better for both drivers. We could see some improvement in front performance for Romain during the first run, but the car/tire behaved very differently on the final run. Kevin also suffered from low-speed understeer, and rear stability continued to be poor. We finished FP3 in P16 and P18, respectively.

“For qualifying, our target was to get out of Q1. We planned for fast-slow-fast for the first run, followed by one timed lap for the second run. Romain had a shocking first run with locking brakes into turn seven on both of his attempts, hence he did not set a lap time. The track was one second slower than FP3. Kevin’s first run was less competitive (1.7 seconds slower than his FP3 best), and he was in P15 after everyone completed their first run. As Romain did not set a lap time, we changed his plan and sent him out for fast-slow-fast (three laps) for his final run. He managed to improve his lap time just enough to go through to Q2 in P15. Kevin improved his lap time by two seconds on his final run. However, the track evolution was huge (just over two seconds), partially due to oil on the entry to turn 20 at the start of the session. He was .13 of a second slower than Romain and finished Q1 in P16.

“For Q2, we planned for two runs of one timed lap with Romain. He failed to complete a lap on his first run. On his second run, he felt the rear tires were not holding up well and lost time in Sector 3. He went .26 of a second slower in Q2 when midfield teams (who did two runs in Q1) improved by .5 of a second. So, he had no chance to finish any higher than the bottom of Q2 in P15. Even if he had put a good lap together, he wouldn’t have been able to beat Ocon in P14, so this was the true reflection of our performance in Singapore.”

Sunday: Race

“With our lack of competitiveness, we were hoping for a chaotic wet race and we got our wish in the end. The weather was already threatening from earlier on in the afternoon. Just before the pit lane opened, it was only a very light rain, so both cars went to the grid on a dry tire set. While we were on the grid, rain intensity increased and it was raining properly by the time drivers got back from the national anthem. Even with this amount of rain, it would have been an easy choice to start on the Intermediates if it was not for our Monza experience. As it was not fully clear which tire would be better, we decided to split the drivers. Romain started on the intermediates whereas Kevin started on the extreme wets. At the race start, Kimi Räikkönen (Scuderia Ferrari), Max Verstappen (red Bull) and Sebastian Vettel (Scuderia Ferrari) came together, which also took out Fernando Alonso (McLaren), effectively. Vettel then crashed out at turn three, and this sequence of events caused the safety car to come out to clear the debris.

“Kevin did very well out of this opening-lap chaos and ended up in P10, whereas Romain was down in P15, having lost out to both Williams’ (Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll). The safety car came in at the end of lap four, and on the restart, extreme wet tires were working well with better warm-up and water clearance. However, the advantage of extreme-wet tires disappeared very quickly as the level of standing water was not high.

“On lap 11, Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) on intermediates passed Magnussen on extreme-wets around turn five before crashing out at turn seven immediately afterward. This brought out the safety car for a second time. We pitted Kevin under this safety car to switch him to intermediates, whereas Romain stayed out on intermediates. Romain and Kevin were now in P11 and P14, respectively. Massa was in front of Romain in P10 with extreme-wets, as he did not pit under this safety car for intermediates. On lap 16, Romain got him into turn seven to go to P9. On the same lap, Kevin got Ocon while into turn 14, then Massa into turn seven on the following lap and got back up to P11.

“Massa finally came in at the end of this lap for intermediates. Intermediate tires were holding on well in a slowly drying track condition. On lap 24, Kevin made a call to come in for the slicks (ultrasofts) before anyone else. Sector 2 was the wettest and his out-lap was slightly slower than his time on the intermediates. He then went significantly quicker on the following lap, showing that the slick was now the tire to be on. As soon as we saw Kevin’s Sector 2 time, we decided to pit Romain. With Kevin being on the faster dry tire for a few laps, he managed to jump Romain when Romain came out from the pit stop. Kevin and Romain were in P9 and P10 at this stage, respectively.

“Romain was 1.3 seconds quicker than Kevin in front, and after a hurry-up call to Kevin, he picked up his pace. However, he was still slower than Romain. With Ocon following Romain closely behind, we decided to switch Kevin and Romain around. On lap 33, Kevin let Romain past before turn 20. Ocon managed to get right up behind Kevin because of this and he eventually overtook Kevin into turn one on lap 34. In free air, Romain picked up the pace and closed up to Stroll in front. On lap 38, Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) lost the car out of turn 12 and crashed, which brought out the third and final safety car. We pitted Kevin under this safety car for a fresh set of ultrasofts as he would not lose any positions. Safety car came in at the end of lap 42 and Romain was under pressure from Nico Hulkenberg (Renault), who lost positions as he had to stop to refill his oil system during the safety-car car period. Kevin was running in P12 when we had to retire him due to ERS issue on lap 50. Romain drove well for the rest of the race and finished in P9 in the time-limited race (maximum two-hour race time regulation).”