As a driver for the only American team in Formula One, what’s it like to compete in the United States Grand Prix?
“It’s definitely a race I look forward to going to. It’s our home race, one we really want to do well at. We’ve certainly got a lot of support there and that provides an extra boost, extra motivation. It’s great to go there and see all the Haas fans in our T-shirts, especially up at Haas Hill where we see all the fans together there. We haven’t had great results there, but it’s definitely the one where we feel at home, and we want to do well.”
This weekend, your team owner, Gene Haas, will have his Formula One team competing in Austin, Texas, and his NASCAR team, Stewart-Haas Racing, competing three hours north in Fort Worth, Texas. How much do you pay attention to the goings-on with Stewart-Haas Racing, and how helpful is to have a team owner who is so well versed in motorsports?
“First of all, it’s no secret that Gene is a real racer. He’s been in motorsports a long time and he’s been hugely successful. We’re obviously still building up with the Formula One team, but we’ve got our best years ahead of us, I’m sure. Certainly, with the NASCAR team, they’ve been incredibly successful – they still are. I follow what they’re doing and I’m always cheering on their drivers.”
Since joining Haas F1 Team, you’ve talked about wanting to drive a stock car. Thursday at COTA, you’ll finally get your chance, with instruction from three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart. Do you have any idea what it will be like to drive a 3,200-pound (1,451-kilogram) Ford Mustang around COTA?
“I don’t have any idea how it’ll be. I’ve never driven a NASCAR before. I’m pretty certain it’s going to be very different to the other car I drive around COTA. It’s going to be a very interesting experience. A NASCAR is such an iconic racecar. I’ve always been eager to try one. Of course, it’s usually in its element on an oval, but they do race on road courses, as well. It’ll be interesting to have a go and have a bit of fun.”
What’s the closest thing to a stock car you’ve driven, and when was it?
“I drove a GT2 car once, and a DTM, but I don’t think they’re similar to a stock car, even though they’re touring cars. A DTM car is very aerodynamic. They have a lot of downforce. A stock car hardly has any downforce.”
This won’t be the first time you’ve received driving instruction from Stewart. He helped you get the feel of a winged sprint car last October. Stewart wears many hats, but what’s he like as a driving coach/instructor?
“I found my feet in that sprint car last October pretty quickly thanks to his advice, and also thanks to him jumping in the car and showing how it’s done before I got in. I had a great time with Tony. He’s a great driving instructor and he knows his way around these things. His experience and knowledge when it comes to stock cars is probably just as impressive.”