About Haas Automation

Haas F1 Race Report:
Hungarian Grand Prix | 7/30/2017

by Ayao Komatsu|Chief Race Engineer, Haas F1 Team


Overview

“This was one of the most difficult weekends we’ve had so far this season. We had two crashes on Friday and suffered from general lack of grip all weekend. We struggled especially on supersoft tires and qualified P15 and P16. In the race, Romain Grosjean had two incidents in the first two corners – each of which were clearly not his fault – and retired with a loose wheel after a pit stop. Kevin Magnussen drove a good race with a difficult handling car. He had a good battle against Nico Hulkenberg (Renault), but got penalized for his defensive action in the end. He finished the race in P11, which was a very good effort considering the lack of competitiveness we suffered this weekend. However, his final classification was P13 after a five-second time penalty was applied. (Undeservedly, in our opinion)."

“Fundamentally, we were just not competitive in Hungary. We did come back reasonably well from a disastrous Friday to a more respectable Sunday, but we need to start the weekend better. We are still P7 in the championship going into the summer break, but we need to raise our game in the second half of the season as Renault has picked up pace in the last couple of races and McLaren was also strong in Hungary. Toro Rosso has opened up the gap on us to 10 points but, at the same time, Williams is only 12 points away. So, the competition will be tight from P5 to P9. We will do everything we can to finish toward the front of this competition.”

Friday: FP1 and FP2

“After an impressive outing in Silverstone FP1, Antonio Giovinazzi was in the car again for FP1 in Hungary. He started off well, gradually improving his lap time during his first baseline run with the soft tire. However, on his sixth timed lap he lost the car at turn 11 and crashed into the outside barrier. There was an extensive damage to the car and three corners had to be replaced. The session was red flagged for this accident.

“Romain’s session was not much better. He aborted his first timed lap after two corners as the car balance had too much oversteer. He then spun at turn nine on the following lap. He touched the barrier backward and damaged the rear-wing endplates. This meant a reasonably lengthy stoppage while rear-wing assembly was changed. Romain managed to get out again with 20 minutes left in the session with car-balance adjustment. This time around, however, the car balance was still far from great and he had to come in for a pit stop so we could make an aero-balance adjustment.

“Romain’s struggles continued into FP2. He had lot of understeer to start with. Adding some amount of aero balance improved the situation, but the competitiveness was still poor. With the supersoft tire, he had traffic with high-fuel runners around him and could not set a lap time. The car was snappy and unpredictable. For the last part of the session, he checked the car on high fuel. He said the car was better in the last half of the high-fuel run, which gave us a direction to go for FP3.

“Kevin was back in the car in this session, but he had to sit out until 20 minutes left in the session while his crew worked flat out to rebuild the car after Antonio’s crash. He went out on the soft tire, but the session was red flagged before he could set a lap time. Track reopened with just 12 minutes to go, so he just had one run on the supersoft. The way he conducted himself in this difficult situation was impressive. He did not complain, he got in the car, did his job and gave us good feedback on the car/tire.”

Saturday: FP3 and Qualifying

“We made some changes overnight and focused on trying to get the tires to work better. In FP3, both drivers ran two sets of supersoft tires. Romain’s first run actually showed improved competitiveness. He was quicker than Force India and Williams and similar to Toro Rosso. However, he could not improve on his second run with the car being much more unpredictable and on the nose. During this run, we had an issue with the rear of the car, hence we had to largely ignore this run.

“Kevin was struggling to feel the car. The grip level was low and the car was very unpredictable. He made a setup change for the final run, which made the car more consistent.

“In Q1, we planned two runs of fast-slow-fast. Romain just made it through to Q2 in P14. However, Kevin very narrowly missed out in P16. He set the exact same lap time as Sergio Perez (Force India), but Perez was in P15 since he set his time first. Considering his lack of track time, Kevin did a good job to be within .01 of a second of Romain in Q1.

“For Q2, we planned two runs of one timed lap for Romain. His lap was good, but the car was just not competitive. Romain qualified in P15, just over .1 of a second slower than Perez in P14.”

Sunday: Race

“With Daniil Kvyat’s (Toro Rosso) penalty, Romain and Kevin started from P14 and P15 on the grid, respectively. We put both drivers on supersoft tires to start with. Both cars had an ok start. At turn one, Hulkenberg drove into Romain, then Marcus Ericsson (Sauber) clipped Romain at turn two exit, which damaged his left-front wheel. This caused a slow puncture which became obvious by lap 20. So, we had to pit him earlier than expected. In this pit stop, we had an issue with the left-rear corner and the wheel was not tight. The crew signaled this immediately, but the car had already left the pit lane. We stopped Romain on his out lap.

“Kevin was behind Hulkenberg for the initial part of his first stint, but Hulkenberg pulled away around lap 15. Kevin was struggling to get the tires to work all the way through the stint. Lance Stroll (Williams) pitted on lap 29. We reacted on lap 31 and rejoined in front of Stroll as planned. It was immediately obvious that Kevin’s pace on the soft tire was much better than his pace on the supersoft. Hulkenberg stopped on lap 45, but had a problem with right-front gun and his pit stop was significantly delayed. Hulkenberg came out just behind Kevin and all the fun began. Kevin was doing a very good job and we used all the tools available to race against Hulkenberg, who had a clearly faster car. It was tense, but good fun. Hulkenberg tried to get Kevin around the outside of turn four, but Kevin held the racing line and Hulkenberg went off. Kevin then became under pressure from Kvyat. Again he saw off Kvyat ok and finished the race in P11. As Kevin received five-second time penalty for the incident with Hulkenberg, he was classified P13, which we thought was incorrect especially when Carlos Sainz Jr. (Toro Rosso) did not receive any penalty for running Fernando Alonso (McLaren) off the track (and actually made contact). Under the very difficult circumstances, Kevin did well, so he and his crew can take positives from this tough weekend.”