Haas F1 Team remain positive ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix at the Autórdromo Hermanos Rodríguez this weekend, despite the challenges they faced during the Japanese Grand Prix, brought about by the adverse weather, which meant that both Qualifying and the race were held on Sunday.
Frenchman Roman Grosjean said he quite enjoyed the change of schedule in Japan, although recognised it put a lot of pressure on the crew to turn the cars around.
“I actually enjoyed it quite a lot. Having qualifying and the race on the same day – yes it was a busy Sunday, but it was pretty cool. For me, it was quite a good Sunday. I enjoyed the schedule. I thought it was cool. For the crew, though, it was hard work having to jump from qualifying debrief straight into the race,” said Grosjean.
He added that the race has been a challenge since their first season in Formula 1 in 2016, as the track’s low air density and slick surface make it difficult to ensure that the Pirelli tyres get to and stay in their operating window.
“Mexico’s been a tough one for us since our first year back in 2016. We’re just going to keep working on it and keep trying to improve our results there. It’s going to be a challenge.
“Obviously, the altitude is the same for everyone, but it looks like it’s impacted us quite a fair bit in the past.”
“Maybe this year we’ll have a better understanding and we can get everything to work. Let’s see where we can go.”
Grosjean’s team-mate, Dane Kevin Magnussen, also appears optimistic ahead of the race.
Magnussen knows that they have struggled with tyre wear and downforce in previous years, but like his team-mate, remains confident as they have a better understanding of the car this year.
“Mexico City has proven in the past to be a pretty challenging circuit for us. The track surface and low downforce means that we struggle more with the tires. I don’t know what we can do in terms of driving style, but we’ve made some good steps in terms of our understanding of the car this year. Hopefully, we’ll be alright.”
The 2017 race was also a highlight for the Danish driver, as he was able to keep Mercedes AMG Motorsport‘s Lewis Hamilton behind him, working his way up to eighth position after starting eighteenth.
“The 2017 Mexican Grand Prix was pretty good for us, though our qualifying position wasn’t good. We made up some ground on the first laps of the race and enjoyed a good consistency in the car,” he said.
“We were able to take the tires to the end of their lives without dropping off too much. A few things happened at the front, so Lewis had fallen behind. In the closing stages of the race, he didn’t really have the pace to overtake me.”
Team principal Gunther Steiner said the Japanese Grand Prix weekend was an opportunity to demonstrate some potential changes to a race weekend.
“Well, there are talks to condense a Friday of a Grand Prix weekend. The talk is to just do running on a Friday afternoon, with all the other PR activities taking place in the morning. I think that would be a good way forward, especially with an extended calendar,” said Steiner.
The Italian added that the circuit has always been a challenge for the team due to the way the cooling system works on the car.
“We always have cooling challenges. Going up into the altitude there, you always need cooling on the cars.
You need a lot more, and that takes downforce away, and you never have enough downforce. It looks like we always suffer more on that one than all the other cars.
That is our biggest challenge, to find the balance between cooling and having downforce available.”