Italian Grand Prix: PreviewSeptember 6, 2022
Haas F1 Team’s 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season will continue with Round 16, the Italian Grand Prix, at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza.
The high-speed venue, located in the verdant parklands north of Milan, is this year celebrating its centenary. Monza was part of the inaugural World Championship season in 1950 and has only once been omitted from the calendar, when it underwent renovation works in 1980.
The circuit has evolved across its 100-year existence but the relics of the past remain, such as the iconic banking, which weaves its way through the forest as a nod to Monza’s history.
The circuit is the fastest on the calendar, with lengthy full throttle sections, interspersed by a sequence of chicanes and medium-speed corners. That results in skinny wings and slippery cars, with a low downforce set-up favored, while strong braking stability and traction is also a necessity for a fast lap time.
Lewis Hamilton’s pole position effort in 2020 was achieved with an average lap speed of 264.363km/h, the fastest in Formula 1 history. As a result the grand prix itself is regularly the shortest of the season, with 2003’s event lasting just 1hr 14 minutes, the quickest full-distance race in history.
Haas F1 Team drivers Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher are ready for the magic of Monza. Magnussen has started six grands prix at Monza, including four with Haas F1 Team, while Schumacher made his Italian Grand Prix debut in 2021. Italy’s Antonio Giovinazzi will join the team as the Scuderia Ferrari reserve driver samples the Haas VF-22 in FP1 on Friday – with Schumacher vacating his seat for the session.
Haas F1 Team enters the Italian Grand Prix in seventh place in the Constructors’ Championship on 34 points.
Guenther Steiner - Team Principal of Haas F1 Team
Looking back on the Dutch Grand Prix the obvious highlight was Mick Schumacher’s fourth Q3 appearance of the season in qualifying on the Saturday. Were you surprised by the pace in the VF-22 in qualifying after a relatively low-key Friday practice, and what stood out for you in terms of Mick’s ability to extract that maximum performance on Saturday?
“We knew that our car in Zandvoort should be performing well because the track has high-speed and medium-speed corners – a little bit like Silverstone and Austria – where we performed pretty well. Mick got the best out of it I’d say, and it was very good of him to get into Q3. Unfortunately, Kevin didn’t get used to the track to put a good performance in, he was getting there but we just ran out of time for him. All in all, we know that the car is performing, we just needed to get a little bit lucky, and we could’ve had points on Sunday, but qualifying was not too bad.”
Race day in Zandvoort wasn’t as successful with a pit issue for Mick and an early off by Kevin. When the team’s up against it so early in a race, what’s the immediate reaction on the pit-wall to respond to such incidents. Is there always that firm belief to keep pushing, and revising strategies, in the hope that external factors will present opportunity?
“Absolutely. You never give up on the pit-wall, you always try to get the best out of it. We almost got it turned around with the safety car and the VSC but we were just a little bit too far behind. The pit stop was one of those things, the front jack got stuck when the car was up which has never happened in seven years, and the one time it happens, it happens during a race. We’re doing around 50 to 100 practice pit stops over a race weekend and it gets stuck on race day. It’s unfortunate but we always keep on pushing whatever happens and that is what we’ll continue to do.”
We head to Italy this weekend for the Italian Grand Prix – the final race of the European Formula 1 season. While the characteristics of the track are not expected to play to the strengths of the VF-22, what can the team take from the race in Monza? Is it simply another useful opportunity to gather more data on the VF-22 upgrades?
“We know that Monza will not be a strong point for us. All the high-speed, low downforce race tracks don’t suit our car. This year we’re not in a position to fight on these race tracks but the team in Italy is working hard on some solutions for next year and I’m sure we’ll get them so next year we’ll be in a better place. We use these races to gain experience and collect data for the development of next year so we’re in a much better place hopefully than this year. We always try to do our best, you never know, there could be rain there. You always need to be 100 percent, you never say this will be a bad race. If we know that it will be challenging, we are working harder.”
Italy is the home of Haas F1 Team’s design office in Maranello. With the department there continuing to mature, what can you tell us about the on-going work on next season’s car and what lessons have come from this year’s package that have perhaps surprised and helped shape the new design?
“We established the department in Italy at the beginning of last year. We started almost from nothing and what we’ve produced for this year I think is a very good result. With the lessons learned this year, we just keep on trying to work on next year’s car even harder and I think we’re in a better place because the group now is more in-tune and they’re seeing what we need to do to on this new regulation car for next year. We’ve switched to the design of next year’s car a few months ago, so the team keeps on learning and keep working hard so that we get a good car for 2023.”