About Haas Automation

Haas F1 Race Report:
Italian Grand Prix | 9/3/2017

by Ayao Komatsu|Chief Race Engineer, Haas F1 Team


Overview

“We expected Monza to be a tough circuit for us. In the end, we came up just short of points with Kevin Magnussen. Of course, it’s disappointing, but we have plenty of good information from the weekend which will be useful for future races. We still managed to finish ahead of the Renaults, Toro Rossos and McLarens. However, Williams scored heavily in Monza, so they are now 20 points ahead of us. We have more updates coming and we expect to be stronger in more standard downforce circuits, so we’re looking forward to the coming flyaway races.”

Friday: FP1 and FP2

“Originally, we planned to have Antonio Giovinazzi in the car for FP1 instead of Kevin. However, due to the threat of rain, we decided to change the plan and put Kevin in the car. Both Kevin and Romain Grosjean ran one set of soft tires and one set of supersoft tires in FP1. We worked on the suspension settings and focused on improving aero and tire operating conditions with both cars."

“FP2 was significantly hotter than FP1 and we struggled more with managing rear tire performance consistently. On top of that, Romain had an issue with the floor, which affected aero performance of the car. On a positive note, Romain ran C.I. brakes in this session and was happy with the performance despite very limited running. He continued with this specification for the rest of the weekend.”

Saturday: FP3 and Qualifying

“As forecasted, it was raining in the morning. The initial forecast for qualifying was dry, but as the day progressed, the forecast got progressively worse. The start of FP3 was delayed since there was so much water on the track. The track finally opened with 16 minutes to go. The conditions were pretty bad, so we only did an installation lap to check the race engine and gearbox installation."

“The rain continued after FP3, hence the condition was worse in the afternoon than FP3. Still, the track went green on time at 14:00 for Q1. We were actually expecting even more rain, so we went out straight away, and so did everyone else except Fernando Alonso (McLaren). Visibility was extremely poor and many drivers came on the radio, calling for the session to be red flagged. Romain set a very good time straight away, but it was too fast. Going for his second push lap, he aquaplaned and crashed on the pit straight. The session was stopped immediately. The pit straight had been resurfaced in August with a very smooth tarmac. The water was not draining there, hence it was very tricky to go through this section of the track. If you kept it on the racing line, it was just about ok. Romain was going flat on this straight, had an oversteer, got off the racing line, came back on power, then aquaplaned. Both drivers said the car was actually working ok considering the condition. So, it was extremely frustrating to lose one car so early. We then had a numerous track inspections and the session restart got delayed repeatedly.

“Finally, Q1 restarted at 16:40 with 13 minutes and 31 seconds remaining, 2 hours and 40 minutes after the session started originally. Everyone went out on extreme wet tyres. Kevin was really struggling with grip and he was down in P17 after two timed laps. He was not going quicker on the third timed lap and decided to come in for intermediate tires. Kevin was one of the first ones to switch to intermediates, joining Alonso and Sebastian Vettel (Scuderia Ferrari), with everyone else following the same trend. However, in this condition, the intermediates did not work at all. Rear grip was extremely poor, causing lots of wheelspin and snap oversteer. Kevin improved his time by .4 of a second, but it was not good enough to progress to Q2. He finished P16, .7 of a second off Carlos Sainz Jr. (Toro Rosso) in P15. Kevin was certainly not the only driver who found worse grip on intermediates, as only six drivers went quicker on intermediates than they did with extreme wets.”

Sunday: Race

“After various penalties were applied, Kevin lined up P9 on the grid. Romain could not benefit from these penalties as his Q1 lap time was slower than 107 percent of the fastest lap time set by Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) in Q1. If you fail to set a lap time within 107 percent of the fastest lap time in Q1, the regulation states that you will not be allowed to take part in the race. However, if you set a suitable lap time in free practice sessions, you are usually allowed to start the race from the back of the grid. Therefore, Romain had to start the race from P20 on the grid. (We had a very similar situation last year in Hungary where 11 drivers failed to set a lap time within 107 percent of the fastest in Q1. However, all 11 drivers were allowed to start the race from their qualified position due to “the exceptional circumstances”. Hence, we argued that the same should be applied to Romain in this situation and he should be able to keep his grid position and benefit from the others’ penalties. The stewards did not agree, so Romain started from P20 on the grid.)

“Start was not great, especially with Kevin. Sergio Perez (Force India) had a particularly good start and overtook Kevin easily. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) also overtook Kevin before turn one. Kevin managed to get a position back by overtaking Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) before turn four. Romain went for the outside going into turn one, which looked good initially as he was ahead of three cars of Pascal Wehrlein (Sauber), Jolyon Palmer (Renault) and Alonso by turn one and side-by-side with Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull). However, Romain made a contact with Ricciardo at turn two exit and lost a large part of the right side of his front wing. The damage was not immediately obvious, so we did not pit him straight away. After two laps, it was clear that we had a significant damage, hence we pitted him at the end of lap three for a nose change and fitted him with soft tires to go to the end. Romain’s degradation on the soft tire was very low, hence we were staying on the pre-race plan of one stop. However, as there was very little prospect of him making progress through the field, we decided to pit him again for supersoft tires, if anything, to get more data points for the future. He finished the race in P15, one lap down.

“Kevin settled in ok during the first stint. He didn’t have the pace to keep up with Perez, but he was managing the threat from Kvyat pretty well. Car balance was ok and degradation was well controlled. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) pitted on lap nine, so we had to react with Kevin on lap 11 to stay ahead of Hulkenberg. Once again, the pit crew did an excellent job and got Kevin back out on the track ahead of Hulkenberg. Recently, pit stops have been not only fast, but consistently fast. This makes a huge difference as we can rely on the timing and optimize the strategy with it. Great job by everyone involved. Kevin drove well in the second stint. He was under pressure from Hulkenberg, who had a quicker car all weekend, but Kevin did not make any errors and used all the tools he had very well. He was in P10 until he got overtaken by Verstappen in a much faster car into turn one on lap 46. Kevin managed to hold off the late pressure from Kvyat and finished P11. Having been in a points-scoring position for so long, it was disappointing to finish in P11. However, on a weekend where we simply lacked competitiveness in this low downforce circuit, P11 is a decent result and it was a good race from Kevin on the back of a disappointing Spa.”