KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (Feb. 14, 2020) – Fresh off the back of a surprise digital unveiling of its VF-20 challenger last week, Haas F1 Team is readying itself to journey to Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the opening week of pre-season testing, Feb. 19 to Feb 21, prior to the start of the 2020 FIA Formula One World Championship.
Heading into its fifth season of Formula One competition, the American team will field its veteran driver pairing of Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, with a combined 266 race starts between them, for the first of two scheduled pre-season test weeks at the 4.655-kilometer (2.892-mile), 16-turn track – the scene of the team’s strongest outing in a challenging 2019 campaign, a double-points finish in last May’s Spanish Grand Prix with Magnussen seventh and Grosjean tenth at the checkered flag.
Magnussen will commence testing on Wednesday, Feb. 19, with Grosjean behind the wheel on Thursday, Feb. 20. The pair will run half a day each on Friday, Feb. 21 – Grosjean running in the morning, Magnussen taking over in the afternoon. The second week of pre-season testing, Feb. 26 to Feb. 28, will see Grosjean run first on the opening day, Magnussen assuming steering duties the next day. Again, both drivers will split the third and final day before teams get set for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, Sunday, March 15.
On Wednesday, Feb. 19, Haas F1 Team will perform a physical unveil of the Haas VF-20 at 8:00 a.m. CET on the pit lane outside of its garage stall at Circuit de Barcelona – Catalunya. As in previous seasons, this will feature Grosjean and Magnussen pulling the cover off the VF-20. The drivers will pose for photographs with the car before heading back into the garage, where preparations will continue ahead of the 9 a.m. track opening and the start of 2020 pre-season testing.
Driver Line-Up Test 1
Wednesday Feb 19 - Kevin Magnussen
Thursday Feb 20 - Romain Grosjean
Friday Feb 21 - Romain Grosjean AM / Kevin Magnussen PM
Driver Line-Up Test 2
Wednesday Feb 26 - Romain Grosjean
Thursday Feb 27 - Kevin Magnussen
Friday Feb 28 - Kevin Magnussen AM / Romain Grosjean PM
New season, new car, new look. The first unveil of a 2020 Formula One car belonged to Haas with the release of digital renderings of the VF-20 last week. Having had to reflect on a challenging 2019 campaign for so long, how refreshing is it to look ahead to a new season and what have been the key learnings applied from the troublesome VF-19 into the design and build of the VF-20 entry?
“Obviously, after a season like 2019, it’s good to get going again with a fresh start. We realized last year, in the middle of the season, that we needed to do something different for 2020, and we did. We’ve just tried to apply into the new car some of the things we learned at the end of the season when we had development parts on the car.”
Will the experience of 2019, when testing and early races showed promise, make you wary of reading too much into positive results from the two weeks spent testing at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya this year?
“No. Last year we had a good test, and the early races were good – then it went south. What we’ve learned is how to look at things better, and how to analyze our data better to see if we’re on the right track or if we’re headed in the wrong direction. We learned as well to listen to our drivers, that sometimes helps a lot.”
Operating across three bases in the United States, United Kingdom and Italy, the birth of each new Formula One car from Haas is a truly global affair. With the VF-20 now the fifth Formula One car in the team’s short history, how has the design and build process been refined over the years to accommodate the logistical challenges faced by being based across three separate locations?
“Operating across three countries on two continents is never easy. I give a lot of credit to our people, they put all this into a very fluid process. I haven’t been to car build, they don’t need me there, they’re doing a great job. Now in our fifth year, it’s a lot less cumbersome than in previous years, especially the first year back in 2016 – it was particularly difficult, but that’s normal. I’m really proud of the job they’re doing to assemble the car.”
What do you remember from pre-season testing in 2016 when the team debuted with the VF-16? Were there any stand-out moments from that experience and with each new season, is there scope to actually enjoy testing and the debut of a new car, or is the pressure to verify months of work on-track too all consuming?
“There’ll never be another moment in life for me to mirror when we debuted the VF-16 in 2016 as a brand-new team in Barcelona. Everybody had been looking at us and our credibility level was very low, as the new teams that had gone before hadn’t done very well, most of them by then were out of business. People were very skeptical. We did a good job and tested like a team that had been operating for months. We had a lot of fantastic people working for us. There’s not additional pressure in testing, it’s more of a relief to be going out there testing. You at least then have something to work on, and you can focus on what you need to do, and what to do better than the season before.”
Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen are paired together for a fourth consecutive season with Haas F1 Team. While being well aware of what they bring to the team – especially with their testing feedback, how do you feel they complement each other as a driver line-up and in what specific areas?
“The biggest thing from having drivers paired together for so long is that as a team we have quite a good understanding of where they’re good and where they’re not. We can then focus on areas where one is better than the other and so on. I think also, the respect between them, is quite good. They look at each other and they don’t need to put a show on or anything like that. They’ve known each other a long time. It’s pretty good to have that relationship. In general, there’s a good understanding between the two of them, and there were some hard lessons learned last year in a car that was underperforming. Those lessons learned will be applied into this year.”