About Haas Automation

Haas F1 Race Report:
Chinese Grand Prix

Ayao Komatsu|Chief Race Engineer, Haas F1 Team

Friday: FP1 and FP2

“As forecasted, FP1 started with wet/damp track conditions. We installed on the full wet tire at 10 a.m. (local time). However, the session was stopped at 10:04 as the medical helicopter could not be operated due to poor visibility. The session was only reopened at 10:47. Both Romain and Kevin went out on the Intermediate tires and worked on the car balance during the run using various control settings. Just after 11 a.m., the session was red flagged again and the session was not restarted. Weather conditions (visibility) did not get any better in FP2 and the session was canceled.”

Saturday: FP3 and Qualifying

“As both FP1 and FP2 were declared wet, we could carry over one set of dry tires for FP3. We carried over one set of Supersofts from our FP2 allocation and hence ran three sets of dry tires in FP3 (one set of Softs and two sets of Supersofts). We started the session with a high-fuel, long run on Supersofts. The car performance was ok with generally understeer balance in lower-speed corners. Even in this green-track condition with high-fuel load, the Supersoft tire did not have any graining (which is a typical problem at Shanghai for softer compounds). We then lowered the fuel load for the qualifying preparation – one run on Softs, followed by a final run on Supersofts. Romain was not very happy with the car with excessive understeer balance. For Kevin, understeer was also an issue.

“Going into qualifying, both cars revised rear suspension setting to gain some front end in lower-speed corners. For qualifying, we planned to use two sets of Supersofts, both in Q1 and Q2.

“In Q1R1, Kevin set a steady 94.9. Romain was heading for 94.5 before the last corner. However, he got an excessive wheel spin at turn 16 and lost the car. Romain’s floor was damaged after this run.

“Both drivers went out for their final run as planned. However, Antonio Giovinazzi (Sauber) crashed out of the last corner on his final attempt. This caused a double-yellow flag and hence neither Romain nor Kevin was able to put a decent lap time on the board. Romain actually got a grid penalty as he did not abandon the lap. Kevin was lucky to scrape through to Q2, only being .08 of a second quicker than Stoffel Vandoorne (McLaren) in P16. Romain was out as he did not record a representative lap time for Q1R1 and Q1R2 was under double yellow. Had he finished his Q1R1 without a spin, he would have gone through to Q2 easily in P11. In Q2, Kevin went for two runs of one timed lap on Supersofts. Kevin’s Q2R2 was .074 of a second slower than Lance Stroll (Williams) in P10 and .014 of a second slower than Sainz (Toro Rosso) in P11. His balance limitation was still mid-corner understeer at lower-speed corners.”

Sunday: Race

“Weather forecast improved overnight and the rain was only expected in the morning. The condition remained overcast and the track was damp when pit lane opened for laps to grid. Both of our drivers went to grid on Intermediates. Some drivers switched to Supersofts for their final lap to the grid. We debated on the grid regarding the start tire and decided to stay on the Intermediates. Sainz (Toro Rosso) as the only one who fitted Supersofts for the formation lap and race start. At the end of formation lap, Jolyon Palmer (Renault) came in and switched to Supersofts and hence started the race from the end of pit lane.

“On lap 1, Sergio Perez (Force India) hit Stroll (Williams), who got stuck in gravel. At the end of lap one, Romain was hit by Esteban Ocon (Force India), which caused significant damage to his floor. Nico Hulkenberg (Renault) came in for Softs at the end of lap one.

“On lap two, VSC (Virtual Safety Car) was deployed to clear Stroll’s car. We decided to take this opportunity to put both of our drivers on Supersofts. VSC ended at the end of lap three, only for a SC (Safety Car) to come out on the next lap as Giovinazzi (Sauber) crashed on the wet patch on pit straight. As Romain was last, we decided to pit Romain again under this SC for a set of Soft tires (warmer tires and give him a chance to go to the end). SC came in at the end of lap seven with Kevin in P11 and Romain P18.

“Kevin was running with a good consistent pace with Supersoft tires. We pitted him on lap 32 for another set of Supersofts. During his second stint, he overtook Ocon (Force India) and Perez (Force India), who were struggling with their long stints on Soft and Supersofts, respectively. Kevin finished in P8, the very first point finish for the red car crew after 22 races(!).

“Grosjean was disadvantaged at the SC restart as Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) in front did not bunch up. Grosjean overtook him straight away, but it took him 4-5 laps to catch up to Palmer (Renault). He was 1.3 seconds quicker than Palmer, but he could not overtake him. Romain finally overtook Palmer on lap 27, but he had lost more than 15 seconds. Romain stopped on lap 35 for another set of Supersofts, but came out just behind Hulkenberg (Renault). Romain manged to overtake Hulkenberg using new tire effect with minimum lap time loss. He then overtook Massa (Williams), who was toward the end of his Supersoft stint. Romain finished the race in P11, 12.6 seconds behind Ocon (Force India).”