About Haas Automation

Haas F1 Race Report:
Russian Grand Prix | 4/30/2017

Ayao Komatsu|Chief Race Engineer, Haas F1 Team



Overview

“It was a pretty tough weekend as we struggled to get the tires to work consistently. Romain (Grosjean) was especially struggling with the car/tire behavior. Normally, he is a couple of tenths in front of Kevin (Magnussen) in terms of pure pace. However, he was .5 of a second off Kevin all weekend. But Romain was not the only driver who was having difficulty in this condition. Kevin was dealing with the situation better, but the car was still very difficult to drive all weekend. Kevin did a decent job in qualifying. It was very close to P11, which would have been the maximum we could have achieved with our competitiveness in Sochi. As a team, there are plenty of lessons we need to learn from this weekend to deal with the similar situation better in future.”

Friday: FP1 and FP2

“FP1 session started with running on a soft tire (hardest compound of the three compounds available at Sochi), which had extremely poor grip, as expected. Once on the supersoft tire, the situation improved, but Kevin’s limitation was oversteer with poor rear-end grip. Romain had too much understeer mid-corner, but he could not put more front-end grip to the car as the entry stability was also poor (typical low-grip issue). Ultrasoft tire in FP2 offered much better rear grip, but snappiness on braking and turn-in remained an issue. Our long-run pace on Friday was not great as both drivers had to manage brakes extensively. On Friday night, we made a decision to revert back to our standard brake material as the Friday solution was not raceable.”

Saturday: FP3 and Qualifying

“The car behavior was largely very similar to the previous day. Grip level was still low and the car was very difficult to drive. The tires were not very forgiving, so drivers found the car very unpredictable and snappy. One lap, it could be a front-end limitation, but the next lap could be a rear limitation. Of course, the harder you drive, more difficult the problem becomes to manage.

“In FP3, ultrasoft tires were still not ready for first timed lap. In fact, Kevin recorded his fastest lap on his fourth push lap. With the expected track evolution, we decided to go for the second push lap in Q1 (i.e. fast-slow-fast profile). This also allowed our drivers the maximum numbers of timed laps in Q1, which was important as it was very difficult to get a lap together.

“Kevin set a decent time during his first run, but he was not able to improve during his final run. He managed to progress to Q2 just .06 of a second ahead of Jolyon Palmer (Renault) in P16. Romain actually couldn’t record a single competitive lap in Q1. His final attempt was ruined by a yellow flag at turn 13. Without it, he would have been P17. Still, very far away from he should be. In Q2, Kevin made a good improvement from Q1. However, he simply did not have the pace to get into Q3. He qualified P14, .067 of a second slower than Carlos Sainz Jr. (Toro Rosso) in P11. So, P11 would have been the maximum he could have achieved.”

Sunday: Race

“Fernando Alonso (McLaren) stopped during the formation lap, causing an extra formation lap. Once the race got underway, both drivers made a decent start, particularly Kevin. Romain got almost alongside Palmer before braking into turn two and he dived inside. Palmer turned in and they made a contact. This was the end of the race for Romain. After the race both drivers were summoned to the stewards, but no further action was taken.

“Kevin got ahead of Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso) and Esteban Ocon (Force India) at the start, but lost out to Ocon under braking into turn two. To make matters worse, he went wide at turn two and came back onto the track in an illegal manner. (Once you go wide at turn two, you have to go in between a couple of yellow polystyrene blocks further down the road before rejoining the track). For this, he received a five-second time penalty, which he had to serve during his next pit stop. Kevin stayed out for lap one SC (Safety Car) caused by Grosjean-Palmer accident. SC came in at the end of lap three and Kevin was in P11 behind Nico Hulkenberg (Renault). Kevin was struggling with tires and he was unable to stay with Hulkenberg. The gap quickly increased to four seconds by lap eight. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) retired at the end of lap six due to a right-rear brake issue, moving Kevin up to P10. Once Kevin got his tires to work, his pace was better, but he was not able to extend the gap to the cars behind. With the five-second penalty, it was inevitable that he would lose a position to Sainz behind. We were watching the gap to Kvyat and we decided to bring him in on lap 21 with just around a 5-second gap to Kvyat. Kvyat came in on the same lap and we lost a position by just over a second. Race leaders caught up to Kevin at lap 24, followed by Sebastian Vettel (Scuderia Ferrari) and Kimi Räikkönen (Scuderia Ferrari), Both Kvyat and Kevin lost so much time with these blue flags (two seconds per lap). This meant Lance Stroll (Williams) jumped both Kvyat and Kevin easily when he made his stop on lap 26. As this was a clear one-stop race, there was nothing much we could do after the stop. Later in the race, Kevin suffered from long brake pedal, hence he had to manage brakes till the end, which is why he dropped off from Kvyat for the final 10 laps of the race. Kevin finished P13, one lap down.”