Kannapolis-based Haas F1 Team gears up for Sao Paulo Grand Prix this weekend

Haas F1 holds one point advantage over AlphaTauri for Constructors finish
Mick Schumacher, Haas F1 Team during the Mexico City GP at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on...
Mick Schumacher, Haas F1 Team during the Mexico City GP at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on Saturday October 29, 2022 in Mexico City, Mexico.(Andy Hone | Andy Hone / LAT Images)
Published: Nov. 7, 2022 at 6:29 AM EST
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KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (WBTV) - Only two races remain in the 2022 Formula One season, and the Kannapolis-based Haas F1 Team would like to make some noise and score points as the season draws to a close.

This week the team travels to South America, for the São Paulo Grand Prix, in Brazil.

Brazil joined Formula 1′s schedule in 1973, at Interlagos, and after a spell at Rio de Janeiro’s Jacarepagua in the 1980s, São Paulo re-established itself as the host location in 1990. Since 2004 it has had a late-season date, with several drivers crowned World Champion, including famous denouements to the title-winning campaigns of Lewis Hamilton in 2008 and Sebastian Vettel in 2012 respectively. Last year’s comeback event, after 2020′s Covid-enforced absence, brought the revised name of the São Paulo Grand Prix after a new agreement was reached, securing Interlagos’ Formula 1 future through the 2025 season.

Interlagos takes its name from the district of São Paulo located between the man-made reservoirs of Guarapiranga and Billinges – directly translating as ‘between lakes’ – and is formally known as the Autódromo José Carlos Pace, as an homage to the late Brazilian Formula 1 icon, who claimed his sole win at the track in 1975. The circuit, one of Formula 1′s most compact, features two lengthy full-throttle sections joined together by a series of undulating long-radius turns.

F1 Sprint will return for its third appearance of the season, and for the second successive year at Interlagos, following its debut in 2021. That means there will be only one practice session prior to Friday’s qualifying, with the result of Saturday’s Sprint setting the grid for Sunday’s grand prix.

Haas F1 Team enters the penultimate round of the season eighth in the Constructors’ Championship, on 36 points.

Guenther Steiner – Team Principal:

Formula 1 returns to Brazil for the São Paulo Grand Prix, Round 21 of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship. We know this is a track drivers and fans love, so what is it about the Autódromo José Carlos Pace that is so special?

“This is one of those classic tracks that just has a good flow in it and there are always people there, whatever happens. Everyone likes to go there to race and normally there is a good race.”

Pietro Fittipaldi, Haas F1 Team’s very own Brazilian, has of course contested a couple of Formula 1 races for the team back in 2020 and took part in FP1 in Mexico and will do so again in Abu Dhabi this season. How important do you think it is for Formula 1 to have a Brazilian competing full-time again and do you think having ‘national’ drivers makes an impact on race weekends – such as the return of the Dutch Grand Prix with Max Verstappen now a two-time winner on home soil?

“We always welcome back Pietro driving but unfortunately, he’s not driving in Brazil this year because it’s a Sprint weekend but he will be back in the car again in Abu Dhabi. In Mexico, he couldn’t drive for long because the car had an issue. Always having a national hero driving a race in their home country brings a lot of passion out of fans, especially in Brazil. Here, the fans are very passionate even without having a full-time driver in the sport at the moment.”

It will be the third and final Sprint event of the season, with six set to feature on the 2023 calendar. How do you think the team has fared at Sprint weekends this year and are there any changes that could be made, in your opinion, to improve the format for competing teams?

“This year in Austria we scored points in both the Sprint and in the main race so for sure, I liked that. It’s a race like any other but it’s shorter and with eight drivers rather than 10 scoring points. I’m in favor of more Sprints as it makes the overall race weekend interesting by having qualifying on Friday. What I’d like even more is having qualifying for the Sprint on Friday and qualifying for the main race on Saturday morning, as the free practice currently isn’t very meaningful for anyone. Then on Saturday afternoon you have the Sprint, followed by the main event on Sunday.”

With just two races remaining in 2022, attention will soon turn to 2023 entries and the likes of car launches and pre-season testing. What can you share about the development of the VF-23 and the lessons learned from 2022 carrying over into next season with rules stability etc?

“Everyone in our team is working flat out on 2023 now. Development is going to plan – I don’t know if others are on plan, or even better than planned but we’ll only find that out during testing. Last year, we started a little bit late because Simone Resta, our Technical Director, had to put a team together in January which took a couple of months. In the end we produced something that was a lot better than before, and I think the trend will continue. I’m very optimistic that we’ll have a good car for next year.”

Kevin Magnussen – Driver, No. 20:

Formula 1 returns to Brazil for the São Paulo Grand Prix, Round 21 of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship. We know this is a track that you love, so what is it about the Autódromo José Carlos Pace that is so special?

“First of all, it’s a unique track because it’s a like a go-kart track in that it’s very small and there’s this fast sort of flow in the track. Most of all it’s because there is so much history of Senna there, so if you’re a Senna fan, Brazil is a pretty special place.”

It will be the third and final Sprint event of the season, with six set to feature next year. How do you think the team has fared at Sprint weekends this year and are there any changes that could be made to improve the format for teams and fans?

“I think we’ve done well, we’ve scored points at every Sprint so far and I actually quite like those weekends where you get into serious business, quickly. Three practice sessions are actually a lot, and these weekends show that you can get ready for qualifying with one practice. It’s the same for everyone, you deal with it, and it becomes normal. I think six next year is good but of course the workload for the team in the garage during these weekends is very high. From a driving perspective, it’s very cool.”

We know you’re a bit of a racing history buff – what elements of this track would you incorporate into future circuits, and where does Interlagos rate on the scale of ultimate tracks?

“I would probably take the first three corners, the Senna ‘esses’, but I also think it’s one of those where it’s very hard to replicate – you need the exact right camber and elevation, it’s unique. With the kerbs, these days many tracks get renovated with the same type of kerb, and I think it’s great when you go to places that have kerbs where you’re able to run on and that are unique.”

With only one Sprint and two races left in the season, and with the battle for eighth place in the Constructors’ Championship heating up with AlphaTauri, does it change your mindset when heading into the first corner on lap one or when fighting with another car side-by-side, knowing every point is crucial?

“I ran in the points in Austin and had that battle with Vettel at the end. It’s always when you lose a battle like that, you think back and find things you could’ve done slightly different and maybe I could’ve held him but there would’ve been more risk and at the end of the day, it was super important for us to get points, so it’s better to take those points than to gamble and risk it all.”

Mick Schumacher – Driver, No. 47:

Formula 1 returns to Brazil for the São Paulo Grand Prix, Round 21 of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship. We know this is a track that you love, so what is it about the Autódromo José Carlos Pace that is so special?

“The flow of the track is something that I like, I enjoy driving it. It was one of the first tracks that I drove in a Formula 1 simulator. Frankly, I just love going there, the fans are great and I’m very much looking forward to racing there again.”

It will be the third and final Sprint event of the season, with six set to feature next year. How do you think the team has fared at Sprint weekends this year and are there any changes that could be made to improve the format for teams and fans?

“People take considerations on what to do and how to improve it, and I’m sure we’re still on a learning curve trying to understand it better and how to improve it. On our side, we obviously want to start the weekend off as well as we can so basically we have the highest amount of opportunities in qualifying that we can.

“Brazil is a track where I immediately felt very comfortable on, and so therefore I’m looking forward to going back. Even though I would’ve liked a normal race weekend there because it would’ve meant more time for us to prepare, it’s a challenge and we’re always up for a challenge.”

For the São Paulo Grand Prix you will be showcasing another one-off design, this time with a special cause in mind. Can you share more?

“Yes, for the São Paulo Grand Prix I’ll be wearing another one-off helmet design. In collaboration with our team partner, 1&1, I will be donating my helmet to RTL’s annual ‘Spendenmarathon’ telethon as an auction prize, with all money raised going to selected children’s aid projects. The RTL broadcast team will have a replica helmet on display during their broadcast this weekend to promote the upcoming auction. I won’t spoil the surprise so you’ll have to wait to see it, but as always, I worked with Jens Munser who does all my designs.”

With only one Sprint and two races left in the season, and with the battle for eighth place in the Constructors’ Championship heating up with AlphaTauri, does it change your mindset when heading into the first corner on lap one or when fighting with another car side-by-side, knowing every point is crucial?

“If you’re shy, the chances are that you won’t score points and these days we need to try and get everything out of what we have and try and finish in those points paying positions.”

Haas F1 Team contributed to this story.