Back on home turf: Kannapolis-based Haas F1 Team preps for Miami Grand Prix
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. (WBTV) - Kannapolis-based MoneyGram Haas F1 Team is ready to race on home soil for the first time in 2023 with Round 5 of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, the Miami Grand Prix.
MoneyGram Haas F1 Team collected points in Saudi Arabia and Australia, but was left outside of the top 10 after a challenging weekend in Azerbaijan, though preserved seventh position in the Constructors’ Championship. Returning to those points-paying positions is therefore the ambition for MoneyGram Haas F1 Team racers Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg at the sophomore Miami Grand Prix. Magnussen contested Miami’s inaugural round in 2022 while for Hulkenberg it will be his first experience of the Miami International Autodrome.
After several years of anticipation Miami debuted on Formula 1′s schedule in 2022, with a street-style facility constructed around the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. The layout of the 19-corner 5.4km wall-lined track remains unchanged from its 2022 debut, with fast and flowing sections combining with tricky complexes and lengthy full-throttle sectors to test the all-round ability of a package.
Race organizers have nonetheless taken feedback onboard and have repaved the entirety of the Miami International Autodrome in a bid to enhance the levels of grip available off-line. That has been undertaken with the intention of facilitating closer racing for 2023 after drivers struggled to battle side-by-side in 2022. Off-track there have also been alterations, with Formula 1′s hospitality units moved inside the Hard Rock Stadium, which will be viewable to spectators from the 300 Level of the 65,000-seater arena.
The Miami Grand Prix at the Miami International Autodrome will be the first of three grands prix to be held in the United States in 2023. Austin’s Circuit of the Americas will host the United States Grand Prix, Round 19, on October 22, before the Las Vegas Strip Circuit makes its much-anticipated debut in the championship for the Las Vegas Grand Prix, Round 22, on November 18.
Guenther Steiner – Team Principal:
Following the first F1 Sprint of the year, with a revised format, what’s your overall assessment of the weekend and how did it go for MoneyGram Haas F1 Team?
“As an event, it went well. It was the first one and there was a lot going on during the race weekend and we still need to get our heads around it. For example, if we do Qualifying for the Grand Prix on Friday, do we disconnect between the race on Sunday and what happens in-between on Saturday? I don’t know the verdict yet, and FOM will speak to the fans to see what they have got to say and see if you need to switch it around, but overall I’m very happy with what happened. It’s quite intense for the teams and drivers but that’s what it should be like, in my opinion. I questioned Free Practice on Saturday, but it’s not boring anymore with Qualifying – it’s the complete opposite – and that’s what we want. All in all, we should go ahead and we should look into the details to see if we need to make small changes or not.”
Formula 1 heads to the coastal metropolis of Florida for the Miami Grand Prix. In only its second running, how has Miami established itself on the calendar and what has this event brought to Formula 1?
“It feels strange as Miami’s only had one year but it feels like it’s been there a long time. Everybody’s looking forward to it because everyone did a good job last year. When you look at these events, there’s always room for improvement but I’m very positive as it’s one of those events where it’s great for the teams to come back. It was a great event last year and it will be a great event this year. There’s a positive buzz to it because the fans are really waiting for these events to come around.”
It’s the first home race of the season for MoneyGram Haas F1 Team. With multiple American sponsors – including title partner MoneyGram – how do these races differ and how is the team ‘showing up’ during race week?
“This event is busy for everybody, the whole team, there is so much going on because it’s a great event. We’ve got a lot of partners, MoneyGram, Haas Automation, Chipotle, TravisMathew – who are American – and then you’ve got OAKBERRY, and Palm Angels – who have a lot of ties to Miami and it’s an important market for them, almost a home race for them. We’ve got a lot of activation going on, which is great because we get exposure and the fans love it when we show them what we’re doing. It’s busy but the weekend will fly by, it’s going to be an event that you never stop.”
Round 5 of the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship brings Haas onto home turf for the Miami Grand Prix. A race that has already become a flagship event on the calendar in only its second year, what does it feel like for you returning?
“The Miami Grand Prix is one of these new races in the US that kind of feels like a new type of Formula 1 event, where it’s taken to the next level. It’s very unique, it’s very hyped, there’s a lot of new things about it and I also think the track is fun.”
The first of three home races this year, do these weeks feel particularly heightened and is there an extra excitement or motivation knowing you’re in front of the team’s home crowd?
“There’s more activities during a US Grand Prix weekend being the only American team, plus having an American title sponsor. It’s also one of the races where we really want to do well in front of our home crowd, and also in front of many of our sponsor’s home fans as well. It’s the closest I get to a home race in a way because there isn’t a Danish Grand Prix and the closest I get is the team’s home race and I count that as ours. Luckily we have three of those and hopefully we can do well at all three.”
You said last year it was one of the hardest races you’ve ever driven – what are the challenges for drivers when navigating the Miami International Autodrome?
“Last year was very hot and humid and also it’s a physical track. It’s not the most physical track in terms of the layout, but it is tough and with the weather on top it was so hard. I think it’s a tricky place to put a Formula 1 track and they’ve managed to make something that’s fun. The timing is very unique and last year it was being repaired over the weekend so it changed a lot during the weekend. There were some big adaptations you had to make to your driving style for those repairs. Sector 1 is fun, it’s the fast part of the track – with the esses and tricky braking in Turns 7 and 8 before the straight – but the most challenging part is the slower section under the bridge before the last long straight.”
Your first Miami Grand Prix – one of the most talked about races on the calendar. You were here on reserve driver duties last year, what do you make of the track and the event as a whole?
“I will only explore the track on Friday in a Formula 1 car, but I did do hot laps around here in a road car and it seemed fun. I’m looking forward to explore it and learn the track as it’s quite technical and challenging for sure. The event was mega hyped, successful and I’ve never seen such a big paddock and grid like Miami during my time in Formula 1 so that looked pretty entertaining.”
It will also be your first home event of the season for MoneyGram Haas F1 Team. Do you have expectations of how busy or elevated these races are going to get?
“Of course it’s going to be a busy weekend and busy race for us. We have a lot of partners and guests that will be supporting us but on track, it’s business as usual and the approach is always the same – I will give it 100 per cent.”
You made your debut in Formula 1 in 2010 – looking back at race events then to how they are now – in your opinion how has this sport grown and is it something you’re proud to be a part of?
“A standard race weekend is still very similar to 2010. Obviously Sprint weekends are very different but overall the sport has evolved and grown over the years, and I think mainly in a positive way.”
As a born and raised ‘Miamian’ – how spectacular was the race last year from your perspective and with improvements made to the track, paddock and even more fans able to watch this year, what expectations do you have for the Miami Grand Prix?
“Going to the first Miami Grand Prix last year was amazing. I always knew a race in Miami would be extremely successful as it’s the hub of Latin America in the US, and obviously the Latin American culture is very passionate about Formula 1. Miami is the center, so having a race there you have people coming from the US, but also from countries in South America coming to watch. I didn’t drive the track but going on the track walk with the team and viewing the onboard cameras, it’s a very technical track.
“I thought the event was really cool and being around the Miami Dolphins stadium, where the promoter did an event for teams and we got to see their training facilities was a highlight of my weekend there. All the superstars from other sports and Hollywood, it was very much Miami vibes, and I think the team did a great job with the event and am sure this year it’s going to be even better.”
Miami is a magnificent city, but during Miami Grand Prix race week there is no end of special events, parties and celebrations – is this something you think other races could adopt in future or it’s a unique trait of Miami?
“Last year there were a lot of events, parties and celebrations going on over the weekend and there is a lot of that at other races, but what makes Miami different is that it’s known for this. The nightlife is a reason people go to Miami, so to have that during a race weekend is very cool. As drivers, we’re focused on the race but having activities going on in the paddock and people like Michael Jordan and Dwayne Wade – athletes who I’m a massive fan of walking around the paddock – is very cool. They were all there for the Miami Grand Prix. Other races do it, but doing it in Miami has a different feel to it.”
As MoneyGram Haas F1 Team Reserve Driver, you’ve spent hours studying this track. Can you talk us through a lap of the Miami International Autodrome and places to watch out for?
“Miami is a very tricky track – it’s technical, it’s a street circuit. You have very long straights so it’s hard to set-up the car because you need straight-line speed. Traditionally you’d go low downforce but then if you look at Sector 1, there’s a lot of high-speed corners and you need the grip. You need to find the right compromise of downforce and straight-line speed. There’s a couple of corners from last year after Turn 1 where you need to find the right line and get the rhythm right. What’s also cool is you’re going under the highway, which I don’t remember seeing at any other track.”
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