British Grand Prix: Race Advance

Blimey! Haas F1 Team Fifth in Constructors’ Standings

KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (July 2, 2018) – A rolling stone gathers no moss, and coming into Silverstone Circuit for Sunday’s British Grand Prix, Haas F1 Team is rolling.

In only its third year competing in the FIA Formula One World Championship, Haas F1 Team is an impressive fifth in the constructors’ standings nine races into the 21-race calendar. Its tally of 49 points so far this season surpasses its total from all of last year, where it finished eighth in points. 

Drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen delivered Haas F1 Team’s best collective result last Sunday in the Austrian Grand Prix when Grosjean finished fourth and Magnussen came home fifth. The haul of 22 points allowed Haas F1 Team to leapfrog Force India and McLaren in the constructors’ ranks and sit within striking distance of the factory Renault effort, which occupies a best-of-the-rest fourth-place standing behind the powerhouse trio of Scuderia Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull. Thirteen points separates Haas F1 Team from Renault, while the American squad has a five-point margin over sixth-place McLaren, a seven-point gap to seventh-place Force India and a 30-point advantage over eighth-place Toro Rosso.

Twelve races still remain in 2018, meaning the advantages and deficits to other teams can still ebb and flow before the curtain drops on Formula One’s 72nd season. That means there’s no let-off for the Haas Automation-sponsored team, which is appropriate considering they’re coming into a venue where drivers rarely let off the throttle.

Silverstone is considered one of Formula One’s power circuits. The 5.891-kilometer (3.660-mile), 18-turn track that is roughly a two-hour drive from London is one of the series’ fastest venues, with an average speed of around 230 kph (143 mph). It is the third longest track on the Formula One schedule, behind only Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps (7.004 kilometers, 4.352 miles) and Baku City Circuit (6.003 kilometers, 3.730 miles). The majority of its layout is comprised of medium- and high-speed corners, allowing drivers to run at full-throttle for 70 percent of their lap. Teams run medium to high levels of downforce in their racecars to better assist with the impressive cornering speeds achieved on the track’s sweeping corners. The circuit has relatively few long straights, making these downforce levels achievable.

Achievement is always at the top of Haas F1 Team’s to-do list. After back-to-back eighth-place finishes in the constructors’ standings in its first two years of existence, Haas F1 Team seeks a higher standing among Formula One’s hierarchy. Founder and chairman Gene Haas proved this point by laying down an edict at the beginning of the season when he said, “We need to be within a half-second of the Ferraris in order for us to be competitive. We weren’t last year. I would say we were a second to a second-and-a-half slower than the Ferraris. Overall, we were maybe two seconds off the pole qualifiers, so we need to knock a second off that if we really want to be competitive.”

As the series nears its halfway mark, call it message delivered. The pace Haas F1 Team first displayed during the chill of preseason testing in late February and early March at Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya has carried into the sweltering heat of summer. Haas F1 Team’s fortunes have risen in concert with the mercury, and with the calendar turning to July, there’s no let-off in sight.

Haas F1 Team has enjoyed its best results this year at power circuits – fourth last Sunday in Austria, fifth in Bahrain and a pair of sixth-place results in Spain and France. Do those performances heighten your expectations for how the team will perform at Silverstone?

“Our car seems to be best at high-speed circuits, and with Silverstone being one of them, for sure we’re hoping to have a good result there, as well.”

What is it that makes the Haas VF-18 so good at power circuits compared to shorter, more compact tracks?

“I think it’s just the aero characteristics. Some cars like slow circuits, some like fast corners, and ours seems to like the fast corners a lot better than the slow ones.”

Silverstone is a fast track where drivers are able to run full throttle for long periods of time. How do you help them find that edge to determine when they can be flat out and when they can’t?

“They find that edge themselves. If the engineering team gives them a good, stable car, they are not afraid to go flat-out. But they need to be confident that the car will do what they want the car to do, and that is down to the engineering team.”

Weather tends to be a large variable at Silverstone, with hot weather interspersed with cool, blustery and even raw conditions. How do you prepare for temperature swings and weather changes, be it at Silverstone or anywhere else?

“Other than having data together for the tires and how they work in the different temperatures, it’s honestly hard to prepare. The best we can do is keep our eye on it and go with what the weather gives us.”

With Haas F1 Team’s European base being in Banbury, England – about 30 minutes away from Silverstone – how helpful is this location for personnel and for logistics as we near the end of this unprecedented stretch of three straight races?

“Most of the guys are based near the circuit or their home is near Banbury, so it’s actually quite nice for them as most can go sleep in their own bed. Nevertheless, they need to get up early to get into Silverstone and they come back late. With three events in a row, it’s quite good that it’s the last one, for at least they’re near to home.”

Silverstone is one of the fastest tracks in Formula One, but it’s not necessarily from long straights but rather from long, flowing corners. Can you describe the feeling of speed you experience at this power circuit?

“It’s a really cool track, especially the fast part through Maggotts, Becketts and Chapel corners. When you have the grip in the car there, you really get the sensation of the g-forces. Everything’s pushing down. You really want to get the first part of the flowing corners right. If you don’t, you just lose a lot of time. When the car is very stable and has good balance, you can go flat-out and really push it to the limit.”

With speed playing such a role at Silverstone, how difficult is it to overtake? And if the opportunity presents itself, where can you overtake?

“There are a few spots. On the straights and through the high-speed corners, you have an opportunity if your car is much better balanced than the car in front of you. After turn three or turn four, there’s the long section after the slow-speed corners, and that’s a good opportunity, as well. But the thing about Silverstone is really the difference between a well-balanced car and an unbalanced car –that’s where the opportunity lies.”

What do you need at Silverstone to have the proper balance in your racecar?

“Silverstone is not an easy track. You’ve got all the high-speed sections, where you really want to carry some speed and get fast. Then you’ve got the twisty turns three and four, then the whole last corner, which is tricky on the throttle application. Generally, you need a good rear-end, and if you get that, you can then put some front-flap on and go faster.”

Is Silverstone the track where you’re able to run at full throttle for the longest periods of time?

“I think probably Baku is where we’re flat-out for longer periods of time, but Silverstone is a power track, as well. You need good power to get a good lap time there. There are a few straight lines and a few overtaking opportunities but, mainly, Silverstone is about the grip of the car through the high-speed corners.”

How do you find that edge to determine when you can be flat-out and when you can’t?

“Well, you find out quickly when you’re wrong, but you have to try. It’s as simple as that. You go step-by-step, but definitely the last step is going flat-out.”

At most circuits, pole position is critical. But for some reason, not as much at Silverstone, where the pole winner has only gone on to win six times in the last 20 years. Is this happenstance or is there something about the track’s layout that provides more opportunity for those a little deeper on the starting grid?

“Silverstone is in the UK, and the UK weather is known to be sometimes rainy, sometimes dry. That plays a part. It can change a lot between qualifying and the race, and then even in the race itself. You can also have a good car in qualifying, but if it’s not quite perfectly balanced for the race, you’ll pay the price. That’s where success lies, and probably why most of the winners didn’t start from pole position.”

Do you have any milestones or moments from your junior career that you enjoyed at Silverstone?

“I’ve had some good races there. I remember GP2 in 2009 – I scored the pole position by a big margin, and that was pretty good fun. In F1, back in 2012, I had a first-lap incident where I had to change the front wing and from there I just pushed all the way. I remember overtaking (Jenson) Button and (Lewis) Hamilton through Maggots, Becketts – the high-speed corners. I came back to sixth from being last on the first lap, which was pretty good.”

What is your favorite part of Silverstone?

“The high-speed corners at Maggotts, Becketts and Chapel.”

Explain a lap around Silverstone, especially now after having competed there with the faster, current-generation car.

“Silverstone is a very high-speed circuit. The new cars make it very different, especially through all the high-speed corners – it’s very sexy. Turn nine, the old turn one, is flat out. It’s pretty amazing when you think about it. That’s really the biggest difference, although sector one hasn’t changed that much, but going into turn nine, and then 10, 11 and 12, and Stowe corner is very fast.”

Silverstone is one of the fastest tracks in Formula One, but it’s not necessarily from long straights but rather from long, flowing corners. Can you describe the feeling of speed you experience at this power circuit?

“Silverstone is definitely one of the good circuits. It’s really fast and you’ve got some big sections with fast changes of directions. I really enjoy driving the circuit.”

Knowing how fast these current-generation cars are, how does the car feel at Silverstone, particularly through the Maggots, Becketts and Chapel corners – an area of the track where you really feel the g-forces being exerted on your body?

“Silverstone is probably one of the best circuits for these new cars. It’s a real downforce circuit with lots of high-speed corners. We all know that high-speed corners are the most impressive in a Formula One car, and Silverstone is all about that.”

With speed playing such a role at Silverstone, how difficult is it to overtake? And if the opportunity presents itself, where can you overtake?

“I haven’t seen how the DRS zones are this year, whether they’ve changed them or not. If they haven’t changed them, then Silverstone is actually a challenging circuit to overtake . It’s all so high speed, so it is quite difficult to follow other cars. You do have some good straights, so if you’re a good chunk faster, then you will be able to overtake, but it’s not going to be easy.”

Your teammate mentioned that the difference at Silverstone comes down to the opportunity between having a well-balanced car and an unbalanced car. What do you need at Silverstone to have the proper balance in your racecar?

“You need good high-speed balance as most of the corners are high speed.”

At most circuits, pole position is critical. But for some reason, not as much at Silverstone, where the pole winner has only gone on to win six times in the last 20 years. Is this happenstance or is there something about the track’s layout that provides more opportunity for those a little deeper on the starting grid?

“I think it’s just by chance.”

Do you have any milestones or moments from your junior career that you enjoyed at Silverstone?

“I won at Silverstone in F3 and World Series by Renault – all the categories I raced there. I can’t really say which one was the best one, but I remember they were all good.”

What is your favorite part of Silverstone?

“Maggots and Becketts because they’re the high-speed turns.”

Explain a lap around Silverstone, especially now after having competed there with the faster, current-generation car.

“Silverstone is mega-fast, a flowing and exciting circuit.”

Silverstone Circuit

  • Total number of race laps: 52
  • Complete race distance: 306.198 kilometers (190.263 miles)
  • Pit lane speed limit: 80 kph (50 mph)
  • This 5.891-kilometer (3.660-mile), 18-turn circuit has hosted Formula One since 1950, with last year’s British Grand Prix serving as the venue’s 51st grand prix.
  • Lewis Hamilton holds the race lap record at Silverstone (1:30.621), set last year with Mercedes.
  • Lewis Hamilton holds the qualifying lap record at Silverstone (1:26.600), set last year with Mercedes during Q3.
  • With an average speed of around 230 kph (143 mph), Silverstone is considered a power circuit and one of Formula One’s fastest tracks. The majority of its layout is comprised of medium- and high-speed corners, allowing drivers to run at full-throttle for 70 percent of their lap. Teams run medium to high levels of downforce to better assist with the impressive cornering speeds. These downforce levels are achievable because the circuit has relatively few long straights. Its sweeping corners provide overtaking opportunities, albeit tricky ones due to the speeds drivers can achieve.
  • DYK, Part I? The iconic gold trophy awarded to the winner of the British Grand Prix is the RAC Cup, and it is the oldest prize awarded in Formula One. Unlike other trophies, the winner doesn’t get to keep it. It’s returned soon after the podium celebration.
  • DYK, Part II? There are 18 turns at Silverstone, and each has its own name and backstory.
    • Abbey (turn one): This flat-out first turn was named after the ancient Luffield Abbey, the remains of which were found near the corner. The abbey was founded prior to 1133 and suppressed by King Henry VI in 1493.
    • Farm (turn two): This is a lazy left hander and the point where cars enter back onto the track from the pits. The origins of its name are simple – the straight used to pass close to a nearby farm.
    • Village (turn three): One of the new corners introduced in 2010 following Silverstone’s redevelopment, this right hander is named after Silverstone Village, which lies to the north of the circuit.
    • The Loop (turn four): This is the only corner at Silverstone named for its shape, and drivers navigate it at 95 kph (60 mph), making it the slowest corner on this high-speed track.
    • Aintree (turn five): Famous for hosting the Grand National horse race, Aintree also staged the British Grand Prix in the 1950s and early 1960s and, in tribute, the left hander leading onto the Wellington Straight now bears the venue’s name.
    • Wellington Straight: Formally known as the National Straight, the run down to Brooklands was renamed in 2010 when it became part of Silverstone’s new grand prix layout. The Wellington Straight takes its name from the Wellington bombers that were based at the Northamptonshire circuit during World War II. Fittingly, the straight is formed from one of the old runways.
    • Brooklands (turn six): In the days of pre-war motor racing, Brooklands was Britain’s No. 1 venue. It makes sense that one of the corners at the modern-day home of British motorsport is named in the old track’s honor.
    • Luffield (turn seven): Like Abbey, the long right hander was named after Luffield Chapel. Introduced to Silverstone’s grand prix layout ahead of the 1991 race, Luffield was originally two distinct corners, known as Luffield 1 and Luffield 2.
    • Woodcote (turn eight): The Royal Automobile Club (RAC) was responsible for organizing the first major races at Silverstone. As such, the group had major influence in naming many of the track’s original corners. Woodcote, the sweeping right hander which used to end the lap, is named after Woodcote Park, an RAC-owned club in Surrey.
    • Copse (turn nine): Silverstone is surrounded by luscious green fields and small pockets of dense woodland, knowns as copses. The quick Copse corner, which was the circuit’s first turn for nearly 60 years, passes especially close to Chapel Copse and Cheese Copse, hence its name.
    • Maggotts, Becketts and Chapel (turns 10-14): Approached at around 300 kph (186 mph), Silverstone’s fastest and most iconic sequence of corners was three distinct bends until 1991. Today, they are interlinked. The opening section, Maggotts, was named for nearby Maggot Moor. Becketts and Chapel Curve, meanwhile, take their names from the medieval chapel of St. Thomas à Beckett, which was built in memory of the murdered Archbishop of Canterbury and once stood near the corners. The chapel buildings were demolished in 1943 to make way for Silverstone airfield.
    • Hangar Straight: Silverstone’s use as a Royal Air Force base meant that it was once home to several large hangars. Two of the largest stood next to what became the circuit’s backstraight, which today is tackled at more than 325 kph (202 mph).
    • Stowe (turn 15): Situated at the end of Hangar Straight, the rapid right hander has always been a challenge for drivers despite several changes over the years. Like so many other corners at Silverstone, it takes its name from a nearby landmark, Stowe School, which lies just south of the circuit.
    • Vale (turn 16): Built on an airfield, Silverstone is more or less flat, which is why the most undulating piece of track, found between Stowe and Club, was named Vale, which is another word for valley. However, some say the name is simply a reflection of the fact this portion of the track sits within the district of Aylesbury Vale.
    • Club (turns 17-18): Club is the track’s final corner. Like Woodcote, Club was named in honor of the RAC’s famous clubhouse in Pall Mall, London.
  • During the course of this weekend’s British Grand Prix, lows will range from 13-14 degrees Celsius (56-57 degrees Fahrenheit) to highs of 27-29 degrees Celsius (81-84 degrees Fahrenheit). Relative humidity ranges from 52 percent (mildly humid) to 95 percent (very humid), with a dew point varying from 9 degrees Celsius/49 degrees Fahrenheit (dry) to 15 degrees Celsius/59 degrees Fahrenheit (comfortable). The dew point is rarely below 7 degrees Celsius/45 degrees Fahrenheit (dry) or above 17 degrees Celsius/63 degrees Fahrenheit (mildly humid). Typical wind speeds vary from 2-21 kph/1-13 mph (light air to moderate breeze), rarely exceeding 27 kph/17 mph (moderate breeze).

  • Pirelli is bringing the following three tire compounds to Silverstone:
    • P Zero Ice Blue hard – less grip, less wear (used for long-race stints)
      • This is the second hardest tire in Pirelli’s lineup and it’s designed for circuits that put the highest energy loadings through the tires via fast corners, abrasive surfaces or high ambient temperatures. The compound takes longer to warm up but offers maximum durability and low degradation, which means it frequently plays a key role in race strategy.
    • P Zero White medium – more grip, medium wear (used for shorter-race stints and for initial portion of qualifying)
      • This is a versatile compound, but it sits in the harder part of the spectrum. The White medium often comes into its own on circuits that tend toward high speeds, temperatures and energy loadings. It has an ample working range and is adaptable to a wide variety of circuits.
    • P Zero Yellow soft – highest amount of grip, highest amount of wear (used for qualifying and select race situations)
      • This is one of the most frequently used tires in Pirelli’s range, as it strikes a balance between performance and durability, with the accent on performance. It is a very adaptable tire that can be used as the softest compound at a high-severity track as well as the hardest compound at a low-severity track or street circuit.
  • The British Grand Prix is the first time these three compounds have been packaged together, as it marks the debut of the Ice Blue hard tire.
  • The Yellow soft tire was used in the season’s first five races, and after a two-race hiatus, it returned to action for successive grands prix in Round No. 8 in France and Round No. 9 in Austria. This is only the fourth race for the White medium tire, with it previously seeing action in Round No. 2 in Bahrain, Round No. 3 in China and Round No. 5 in Spain.
  • Two of the three available compounds must be used during the race. Teams are able to decide when they want to run which compound, adding an element of strategy to the race. A driver can also use all three sets of Pirelli tires in the race, if they so desire. (If there are wet track conditions, the Cinturato Blue full wet tire and the Cinturato Green intermediate tire will be made available.)
  • Pirelli provides each driver 13 sets of dry tires for the race weekend. Of those 13 sets, drivers and their teams can choose the specifications of 10 of those sets from the three compounds Pirelli selected. The remaining three sets are defined by Pirelli – two mandatory tire specifications for the race (one set of Ice Blue hards and one set of White mediums) and one mandatory specification for Q3 (one set of Yellow softs). Haas F1 Team’s drivers have selected the following amounts:
    • Grosjean: one set of Ice Blue hards, three sets of White mediums and nine sets of Yellow softs
    • Magnussen: one set of Ice Blue hards, three sets of White mediums and nine sets of Yellow softs
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