About Haas Automation

Haas F1 Race Report:
Bahrain Grand Prix

Ayao Komatsu|Chief Race Engineer, Haas F1 Team



Overview

“It was great to score points in two consecutive races. Our qualifying competitiveness was similar to the previous two races and our race pace was good. On the other hand, Kevin (Magnussen) did not have much luck. His qualifying was ruined by a double yellow and he retired from the race due to an ERS issue.”

Friday: FP1 and FP2

“Due to 6 p.m. (local time) qualifying and race, afternoon sessions (FP1 and FP3) are always unrepresentative with high track temperature. Friday was the hottest day of the weekend and track temperature was close to 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit). We used one set of medium tires and one set of soft tires for the afternoon sessions, as did everyone else. The medium tire was not working at all in these conditions and lap times were very slow. Once moving onto the soft tire, many drivers found more than three seconds (per lap). Rear tire grip was ok for one-lap performance, but it was overheating throughout the lap. Car balance was generally understeer in lower-speed corners. Cooling was also a concern in this session, but we managed complete the program without an issue.

“Track temperature dropped 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit) for FP2, but the wind became quite gusty at the same time. Wind direction also changed such that it was a tailwind into high-speed corners (turns six and seven). This changed car stability through these corners completely, and it was much more difficult to drive. Both drivers ran soft and supersoft tires before going onto high-fuel, long runs. Both cars successfully completed high-fuel runs, which gave us very good data for race preparation.”

Saturday: FP3 and Qualifying

“Based on Friday data and expectation of the cooler race, we decided to run one set of soft tires and one set of supersoft tires in FP3. This allowed us to run two sets of supersofts in both Q1 and Q2 (plus one mandatory Q3 set). As ever, the midfield is very tight, so it is very important to have four sets of supersofts for Q1 and Q2 to give ourselves the best chance of getting into Q3.

“We had a messy FP3 session. Magnussen did not put sectors together during his soft tire run, but his best sectors on this tire looked where we expected him to be. However, (Romain) Grosjean’s car balance was very nervous. He was actually very quick in sector one, but could not hold onto it at turn eight. As the balance was so poor, we changed front wing specifications with pit stop and sent him out again to check if it was performing ok. This change did not help, as the car was still very nervous through turn four and he ended up crashing at turn five. This caused the session to be red flagged. He was able to restart the car by himself and get back to the garage during this red-flag period. Both drivers went out for the final qualifying preparation run with supersoft tires. Kevin was only able to improve effectively by .4 of a second from his soft tire run (correcting for his mistake in sector three on his best lap on soft tires). Romain’s supersoft run again had a very competitive sector one, but was extremely poor in sector two due to understeer in turns eight and 10, especially.

“For qualifying, Romain made a mechanical setup change to reduce low-speed, mid-corner understeer. Kevin also adjusted mechanical balance, but this was to anticipate the car balance change with lower track temperature in qualifying. In Q1, both drivers went out for fast-slow-fast on their first run. Kevin set a steady 32.9 whereas Romain locked up into turn one with cool front tire temperature. We turned the car around quickly to get Romain out again as he hadn’t set a competitive lap time. This worked well and he was able to set 31.6 for his second run. The same could not be said for Kevin. Kevin was the last car to attempt to set a lap time for his second run. Carlos Sainz Jr. (Toro Rosso) stopped at the last corner, causing a double yellow, hence Kevin had to abort his lap. Sergio Perez (Force India) and Kevin were the only drivers affected by this. Before the yellow flag, Kevin was .2 of a second off Romain, hence likely to be P14 behind Esteban Ocon (Force India). However, without yellow flag, Sainz and Perez would have been quicker than him, so it was likely that he was still out in Q1 in P16.

“Romain made a very good improvement throughout Q2 and progressed to Q3 in P9. In Q3, he felt the tires had less overall grip. His lap was not untidy, but he did not find much time. He qualified P9, .7 of a second behind Felipe Massa (Williams) in P8. This was an excellent recovery from a very poor FP3.”

Sunday: Race

“Our baseline numbers suggested the race would be completed with two stops. We put Romain on a supersoft/supersoft/soft tire strategy and Kevin on a supersoft/soft/supersoft strategy. We were flexible with the timing of Kevin’s first stop depending on how he progressed through the field during his first stint. He was running P15 behind Fernando Alonso (McLaren) when he encountered an ERS issue and retired on lap nine.

“Romain held P9 on the opening lap and was behind Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) for his entire first stint. His pace was good and he was able to keep up with Hulkenberg who was .9 of a second quicker than him in qualifying. Ocon stopped on lap 11 and we responded on laps 12 to cover him, fitting supersofts as planned. It was very tight, but the pit crew did an excellent job to get Romain out again in front of Ocon. Unfortunately, just behind Romain, Sainz drove into Lance Stroll (Williams), and this brought out the safety car. This meant Perez, who was .4 of a second behind Romain before we stopped, jumped Romain. On the safety car restart, Romain got Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) on the soft tire straight away, but could not get past Hulkenberg who was also on softs. We pitted on lap 31 and fitted softs to go to the end, counting on Romain to be able to overtake backmarkers without loss. He did this brilliantly, quickly passing Pascal Wehrlein (Sauber), Jolyon Palmer (Renault), Alonso and Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso). Hulkenberg stopped on lap 36 and fitted supersofts. Romain’s pace on softs was very good and we had a comfortable gap at 10 seconds. We were able to manage his tires and the gap till the end of the race. Romain finished P8, 5.3 seconds in front of Hulkenberg.”