About Haas Automation

Haas F1 Race Report:
Canadian Grand Prix | 6/11/2017

by Ayao Komatsu|Chief Race Engineer, Haas F1 Team


“This was probably the most satisfying P10 so far. We didn’t really have a pace all weekend to be in the top-10. Our qualifying did not go as well as expected and we were down in P14 and P18. In the race, Romain Grosjean had to come in for a nose change on lap 1, though not a fault of his own, which, of course, compromised his race significantly. Kevin Magnussen got a five-second time penalty for overtaking under VSC (Virtual Safety Car). Despite these setbacks, we managed to get one car to finish in P10 and came away from this difficult weekend with a point. We have now scored points in five out of seven races. Last year, we scored points in five out of 21 races. This is clearly a sign of the improved consistency we are aiming for this year. As we keep saying, the midfield is very tight and the order swings between races. At some races we will be at the front of the pack and at some others we will be toward the other end. At this race, we were clearly toward the back end of that pack, which is not where we want to be. However, the important thing is that we still managed to get something out from such a tough weekend”.

Friday: FP1 and FP2

“Our focus on Friday was to get the car setup in the correct window, understand the ultrasoft and supersoft tires as much as possible, and get the brakes under control. We experimented with rear suspension setting as well as ride height setting to find a good balance between drag reduction and performance in grip-limited sectors. As expected, front brake temperatures were very hot. Even with low fuel runs in FP1, both drivers had to manage brakes. For FP2 long run, we opened up extra front brake cooling, and this was just about manageable. Car balance itself was not too bad, so again, it was down to how the tires were working. Supersoft tires were working ok, although it required some management. By comparison, the ultrasofts were the more difficult tire to work with. It had better overall grip, but it was not straightforward to get the best out of these tires. We checked our car with high fuel in FP2, as usual, in order to find out how the tires and brakes are working in race condition. We gathered valuable data and we were able to make adjustments overnight for FP3.”

Saturday: FP3 and Qualifying

“Overnight, we made several changes, focused on improving tire working condition, brake cooling and curb riding.

“As the race strategy was a clear one stop, we did not need two sets of supersoft tires for the race. Hence, we ran once on the supersoft and once on the ultrasoft in FP3. Romain was pretty happy with the car straight away and was competitive against the other supersoft runners. He was one second behind Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) and Max Verstappen (Red Bull), similar to the Force Indias of Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon, as well as Felipe Massa (Williams) and Nico Hulkenberg (Renault). Romain felt the car was nervous on entry into a couple of corners, but generally not too far off. Kevin also felt the balance was ok, but his car looked more nervous and he was losing time in turns one and three. He was .3 of a second off Romain, although he did not complete the lap due to a brake lock-up into the last chicane. On the ultrasoft tires, neither driver was happy with the tire performance. They felt they did not get the step of grip they expected. The difference between the tires was certainly smaller than what was seen on Friday. However, we still underperformed on ultrasofts, relatively. Both drivers commented that it was difficult to keep the tires in their window.”

“Our Q1 program focused on achieving maximum numbers of timed laps in the session as tire warm-up was slow. Also, ultrasofts were not working consistently, hence we felt drivers needed as many opportunities to set a lap time as possible. We planned for two to three push laps for the first run, followed by three push laps for the second run. Both drivers struggled on their first run, which has been the trend all season. After everyone had a chance to set a decent lap time, Kevin was down in P18 with Romain in P19. For the first 10 minutes of Q1, the track conditions were slightly worse than the end of FP3. However, our drivers were slower than their FP3 time by more than .6 of a second, and in Romain’s case, 1.3 seconds.”

“Kevin had an issue with traffic on his second run, which resulted in him not being able to start his first timed lap as planned. Hence, he had to do an extra ‘preparation’ lap. This put him totally out of sync with everyone around him. (He was doing a charge lap when the others were on their timed laps and vice versa.) In addition, this meant he only had a chance to do two push laps instead of three as originally planned. The beginning of his second push lap was not great, he was already .2 of a second down after turn four, so he decided to abort the lap after turn six in order to have a chance to have a final attempt on the next lap. Unfortunately, Pascal Wehrlein (Sauber) went off at turn one, which resulted in yellow flag. This was the end of his qualifying session. He finished P18.”

“Romain’s second run went according to the plan. He was on the fast-slow-fast-slow-fast profile. His first timed lap was already a good step improvement from his first run and closer to what we expected before the qualifying session. He improved slightly on his second push lap. His third lap was almost identical to his second push lap. However, we decided to abort this lap after turn 10 as DRS was disabled due to the yellow flag at turn one for Wehrlein. Romain progressed to Q2 in P11.”

“In Q2, we decided to go for two runs of fast-slow-fast as the tires looked ready by the second push lap. Romain’s first run was not great. Sector 2 was particularly poor, with poor exit out of turns seven and nine. On his second push lap, he locked up the front tires into turn eight, hence aborted the lap and came in. As the tires were very difficult to manage, we decided to extend his second run so that he could have three push laps. The car looked pretty nervous throughout the run both on corner entry and exit. As a result, he could not improve on the lap time he set in Q1. He qualified P14, .43 of second off Hulkenberg in P10. He was .15 of a second behind Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) in P11, so this would have been the very best he could have achieved.”

Sunday: Race

“Due to low tire degradation and low tire wear, the strategy was a clear one stop. The performance between ultrasofts and supersofts was pretty similar based on FP3. As we qualified P14 and P18, we decided to start Kevin with supersofts in order to have a better chance for him to be out of sync with the people around him. With Romain, we decided to start him on ultrasofts so that he could stop early to undercut people in front. Everyone started the race on ultrasofts except for Kevin and Wehrlein.”

“Romain got a decent start and held his position. On the way to turn 3, Carlos Sainz Jr. (Toro Rosso) moved to the right twice. On the second time, Sainz’s right-rear made contact with Romain’s left-front, sending Sainz sideways and damaging Romain’s front wing on the way before collecting with Massa at turn three and smashing into the barrier. This brought out Safety Car.”

“Romain had to pit for a replacement front wing assembly. Pit crew did a great job – changed the front wing in 10 seconds. We fitted Romain with supersofts and planned to go to the end. Safety Car came in at the end of lap three. At the restart, both of our drivers were struggling for pace with poor warm-up and rear grip. At this point, our drivers were the only ones with the supersofts until Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) pitted on lap five due to damaged front wing sustained at race start with Verstappen. Romain actually lost the car at turn one on lap seven as the rear end was so poor. This dropped him down to P17 behind Wehrlein before he regained his position on lap 10. Verstappen stopped on lap 11 at the exit of turn two. This brought out VSC (Virtual Safety Car). Both Renaults (Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer) and Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) pitted under this VSC. This moved Romain up to P13. Romain caught up to Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren) in front relatively easily, but this also put his brakes on the limit. With extensive brake management, his pace dropped after lap 25 and Palmer actually caught up to him. Romain was doubtful if he could go to the end with this tire, but considering he was down in P13, it was clear that our best chance to get close to a top-10 was by staying out. After the brake situation improved, he was able to manage the tires better and his pace picked up. He lost a position to Lance Stroll (Williams), but gained positions when Vandoorne, Kevin and Kvyat pitted. He then finally got into P10 when Fernando Alonso (McLaren) stopped on lap 67 at turn nine. It’s hard to say accurately where he could have been without front wing damage, but we never had a pace to threaten Hulkenberg all weekend. I think the best could have been was where Stroll finished in P9. All in all, this was a good effort to get a point out of a weekend where we generally struggled on pace.”

“Kevin’s start was ok. He was almost side by side with Stroll at turn one, but he got boxed in with Vandoorne in front. He managed to take advantage of turn three incident and got in front of Stroll and Palmer. Kevin was in P13 at the end of lap one. When Vettel pitted for a nose change, Kevin was in P12 when VSC came out for Verstappen stopping at turn two exit. VSC ending message came up when Kevin was at turn 13 at the end of lap 13. Kevin then overtook Vandoorne on the pit straight before VSC actually ended. Realizing his mistake, he gave the position back to Vandoorne before turn one, then overtook him again – this time legally – before turn three. He got a five-second time penalty for this mistake. This penalty meant we wanted him to stay out as long as possible while the supersoft was in a decent condition in order to maximize the tire difference toward the end of the race to overtake. Similar to Romain, he was struggling with brakes and had to manage at various degrees throughout the race. The supersofts were also suffering from overheating, so this had to be managed to make the long first stint work. He did this well in the last half of his first stint. He pulled away from Vandoorne comfortably such that we could react to Vandoorne’s stop even with Kevin’s time penalty. Vandoorne pitted on lap 45 and we reacted with Kevin on lap 46, and came back out comfortably in front of him. We lost some time and tire performance with blue flag for Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes). This was a pity as it meant he lost a fresh tire performance by the time he caught up to Ericsson. Still, he passed Ericsson, then caught up to Palmer. However, he did not have enough pace delta to pass Palmer. He finished the race in P12. Without the penalty, he should have finished P10.”