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Kannapolis-based Haas F1 Team getting ready for Monaco Grand Prix

Stewart Haas Racing and Haas F1 Team Crossover last week at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Stewart Haas Racing and Haas F1 Team Crossover last week at Charlotte Motor Speedway.(Justin Potter Photography | LAT Photo)
Published: May. 24, 2022 at 6:49 AM EDT
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KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (WBTV) - This weekend brings the ultimate trifecta for motorsports fans across the world; Sunday is the day for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, the Indy 500 in Indianapolis, and the historic Monaco Grand Prix. The Kannapolis-based Haas F1 Team, showing a lot of promise in recent qualifying sessions, is preparing for the iconic race through the streets of the Circuit de Monaco.

The Monaco Grand Prix is one of motorsport’s oldest events, having first run in 1929, and in 1950 it was part of Formula 1′s inaugural World Championship season. It has been absent from the schedule on only four occasions during Formula 1′s 72-year history.

Monaco’s prestige is heightened by its demanding layout and desirable location, with the circuit winding itself around the narrow streets of Monaco’s Principality, perched along the jaw-dropping French Riviera. The Circuit de Monaco remains largely recognizable to the layout first run 93 years ago, with the 3.3km track passing by landmarks such as the Hotel de Paris, Casino de Monte-Carlo and iconic Port Hercule, in which float gargantuan nautical creations.

It is a circuit where track position and strategy are both vitally important, given that passing is extremely tough, while the barriers can quickly bite for any driver who oversteps the limit. While the Circuit de Monaco is the shortest, and slowest, on the current calendar it is among the most frenetic and awe-inspiring for those tasked with navigating Formula 1 machinery around its streets.

It is a challenge eagerly awaiting Haas F1 Team drivers Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher. Magnussen has entered five Monaco grands prix (2014, 2016-19), twice finishing in the points, while Schumacher picked up his first experience of the Principality’s Formula 1 race in 2021, having previously run Formula 2′s round in 2019.

In a change from the long-held tradition, when practice took place on Thursday ahead of a rest day on Friday, the Monaco Grand Prix this year falls in line with other events for the first time. Track activity will now commence on Friday, with qualifying Saturday and the 78-lap race Sunday.

Guenther Steiner – Team Principal:

The Spanish Grand Prix saw both Haas cars start in the top 10 but fail to score points by the checkered flag. What lessons does the team take away from such situations?

“Obviously we took away some disappointment. We did a few things which weren’t perfect, but we have a lot of work to do. We can’t do anything about Kevin’s Turn 4 incident, you can’t learn a lot there and what we tried was something hoping that the safety car would come out. With Mick, we need to see why we ended up with the strategy we chose and what we can do to make it better for the future. I’m not jumping to conclusions, it wasn’t completely wrong as there were a lot of unknowns, especially in his first stint with the new tires where we lost a lot of positions there, so we have to analyze that before coming to a conclusion.”

Following the first race with many of the grid running upgraded packages in Spain, what’s your assessment of who’s found pace and where do you think Haas currently ranks in the line-up?

“It’s very difficult to judge who found pace but the obvious ones were Mercedes and Alfa Romeo. With the others, I don’t know how much pace they found and it’s a one-off race with very strange conditions – it was very hot, very unusual for Spain – so we have to wait a few races to find that one out. We obviously chose not to put upgrades on but we made our car go quicker, at least in qualifying, so I think we’ve found something in the set-up. We have still got something in the car which we haven’t unleashed so let’s work a little more on that, but we made a very good step in Spain. We are in the midfield but the midfield this year, it depends on the race. In some races one car is good, and in others, somebody else. I think that is very interesting and it’s how it should be – it mixes up the field.”

We now move to Monaco for Round 7 of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship. When discussing the headline events that the calendar now includes, where does Monaco sit with you? Is it still the jewel in the crown of the sport or do you expect newer events to ramp up the pressure on established circuits?

“Monaco is obviously a classic, and it has been there forever. It’s one where we enjoy going to as well but there are a lot of events that are going in different directions. I always say, different directions are better because then fans can look forward to different specialties. Monaco is one of those specialties in the calendar.”

This will be the first season that the Monaco Grand Prix follows a standard three-day event format, as previously practice sessions took place on Thursday with Friday serving as a ‘day off’. What impact, if any, does that make to preparations – especially now on a back-to-back with the Spanish GP?

“If we had stuck to the old way, to run on Thursday and have the Friday off, it wouldn’t have worked with the back-to-back, or it would’ve been very difficult. With having a 22-race calendar this year, it would be very difficult to add another date to the schedule for the people working there. I think the decision was the right one, for us we just get normality, and we don’t come in late on Thursday because we are not used to that. I think it had to be done and there will be no big changes – no one will remember that we practiced on Thursday and not on Friday.”

Kevin Magnussen – Driver, No.20:

Round 7 of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship takes Formula 1 to the Principality for the Monaco Grand Prix. With these new cars that are able to follow for longer, do you expect there to be more opportunity for racing?

“I think these cars are a lot better in terms of being able to follow closely and race closely, but I still think Monaco is a tricky enough place that perhaps we won’t see such a big difference there. I think Monaco is the one place where it’s still an awesome race even though maybe overtaking isn’t the main attraction there.”

When discussing all the headline events that the Formula 1 calendar now includes, you’ve said you’re in favor of Monaco remaining on the schedule. Why do you have such a fondness for the event and why in your opinion is Monaco still a jewel in the crown for the sport?

“I just think that it’s one of the tracks that, to me, is really in Formula 1′s DNA. I understand that maybe it’s not the most exciting race on a Sunday, but I think the weekend as a whole has a lot of value – it’s truly an exciting race weekend.”

This will be the first season that the Monaco Grand Prix follows a standard three-day event format, as previously practice sessions took place on Thursday with Friday serving as a ‘day off’. What impact, if any, does that make to preparations, and what did you use to do with the free day – sightseeing around the Riviera or working with the team at track?

“I used to do some media and sponsor activities on a Friday, so I don’t know how it’s going to be now but I’m sure the team will find a way to keep me occupied – they always do.”

Your last race around the streets of Monte Carlo was in 2019, and with the track having zero margin for mistakes how hard is it to get back into the rhythm of driving around one of the narrowest circuits in the world?

“It’s hard, and that’s why it’s fun, it’s such a crazy place to drive a Formula 1 car. I think we’re very used to it – seeing Formula 1 cars in Monaco – but actually if you think about it, it’s crazy. The streets are so narrow, and the cars are so fast. It’s phenomenal, a lot of fun.”

Mick Schumacher – Driver, No.47:

Round 7 of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship takes Formula 1 to the Principality for the Monaco Grand Prix. With these new cars that can follow for longer, do you expect there to be more opportunity for racing?

“Yes, the cars are easier to follow but Monaco is still a track where you can’t overtake and these cars are heavier. They’re mainly made for high-speed with the ground effect that we have so it will be interesting to see. There will definitely be new ways of approaching this weekend but it’s the same for everyone so we’ll just go for it and try our best, and hopefully have a good qualifying.”

When discussing all the headline events that the Formula 1 calendar now includes, you’ve said you’re in favor of Monaco remaining on the schedule. Why do you have such a fondness for the event and why in your opinion is Monaco still a jewel in the crown for the sport?

“It’s been a part of Formula 1 for so long and it’s a historic venue. It would be a shame to lose something which has been in the sport for so many years. It has always been counted as one of the big events to win. If you have the big three wins – the Indy 500, Monaco Grand Prix and 24 Hours of Le Mans – it would be a shame to lose that opportunity. It’s something that some drivers chase, it’s maybe not my number one priority, but some still might want to do that.”

This will be the first season that the Monaco Grand Prix follows a standard three-day event format, as previously practice sessions took place on Thursday with Friday serving as a ‘day off’. What impact, if any, does that make to preparations, and what did you use to do with the free day – sightseeing around the Riviera or working with the team at track?

“I was usually cycling or working out and going to visit the team. Honestly, I think it’s the right choice from a financial point as everything is quite expensive and reducing that does make a difference.”

Monaco was a learning curve in your rookie season last year, how did you take those moments and turn them into valuable lessons and in the case of Monaco, did you have to change your approach, as many drivers have admitted to previously?

“I think Monaco was overall great up until then. We were on for a good lap and just took it a bit too far in FP3 rather than qualifying. Monaco is always unforgiving, so I won’t talk too early but I’m looking forward to going back there and driving because the race was fun. I feel like you always have to adapt although it’s not necessarily that I consciously change my driving style, but I adapt to the needs of the car and the track itself.”

Haas F1 Team contributed to this story.

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