Haas preview the Monaco GP

Haas have highlighted the importance of a good qualifying showing in Monte Carlo as the American team prepares for their first Monaco GP…

Romain Grosjean:
Monaco in Formula One is like the Indianapolis 500 in INDYCAR and the Daytona 500 in NASCAR. Obviously, Monaco is special, but what is the Monaco Grand Prix like for you?

“Monaco is special to me because it’s kind of my home race. We’re beside France and there’s always a lot of people, a lot of fans. It is, of course, special because of all the glamour because it is Monaco. Everyone knows Monaco and everyone wants to be in Monaco. It’s a very challenging track and a very long weekend with lots of demands, but at the end of the day it’s a very nice show.”

The posh, elegant lifestyle around Monaco meets head on with one of the most demanding and unforgiving circuits in Formula One. Monte Carlo is obviously a cool place to visit, but how difficult is it to race there?
“It’s pretty difficult to race there. Every city racetrack is complicated. In Monaco, you can’t make any mistakes or you’re straight into the wall. It’s hard to find the right limit of the car. You always have to drive underneath (the limit), unless you’re in qualifying on a very fast lap. It’s very tight there, and it goes very fast between the walls. It’s a great challenge.”

Qualifying is always important in Formula One, but is it exceptionally more important at Monaco because it is so tough to pass?
“Yes. It’s almost impossible to pass in Monaco, unless you take big risks, and in that case you may spend some hours with the stewards afterward. Qualifying is the key. You really want to be on the front row. Once the race starts, you want a good start and try to hang in there. It’s one of those races where the chances to overtake are very low. Something really needs to happen for you to be able to come back if you’re racing at the back.”

The Monaco Grand Prix has been held since 1929. Does the history of that race resonate with you, and is there a particular race that stands out for you?
“I do remember Monaco in 1996, 20 years ago, when Olivier Panis won. He was the last Frenchman to win a grand prix. I remember that race, especially as it was a crazy race. He started 14th and was one of only three cars to cross the finish. Of course, the history of Monaco, and all the racing cars, and the changes to the circuit over the years – we love it because Monaco is Monaco.”

Because Monaco is so technical, do you consider it a driver’s track, where one’s skills can trump another car’s sophistication?
“That’s a tricky question. Yes, it’s a driver’s track, where you need to have confidence in your car. But, on the other hand, if your car doesn’t give you any grip, you won’t have any confidence, and you cannot make any difference. It’s just finding that very fine balance in between the car, the driver pushing it, and the fact that yes, once you’re very confident, you can actually make a bit of a difference.”

It seems like good days at Monaco become great, but bad days turn even worse. Is success at Monaco so cherished because it’s so difficult to succeed?
“That’s probably true, yes. It’s probably one of the most difficult races to win. Everything needs to be perfect, from the first free practice to the end of the race. You need a good pace in practice and, hopefully, get a top-three place in qualifying. After that you need a good start, a good strategy and a good run to the end. It’s very difficult to get that right.”

You’re a guy trying to convince his wife or girlfriend to come to a race. If it’s Monaco, where does he need to take her to ensure she gets to enjoy Monaco beyond just the race?
“I think in general, every track that’s in a city – Monaco, Melbourne, Montreal, Singapore, Budapest and Austin – they’re all pretty cool places. There’s obviously the race going on, but alongside that, there’s the city where your wife or girlfriend can explore. Monaco is a high-glamour track because you’ve got the boats, the marina and all of that on top of it. It’s definitely a cool place to bring your wife or girlfriend.”

What is your favorite part of the Monaco circuit?
“I quite like the run up the hill to Casino Corner. It’s a high speed part of Monaco.”

Describe a lap around Monaco.
“So you start on the straight, where it’s very bumpy hitting the brakes into turn one at Sainte Devote. It’s easy to make a mistake here, but then you need to make a good exit for the run up to Casino Corner. Up the hill, blind corner, braking just after the bump, fourth gear, and then third gear for the next one. Going down then you want to avoid the bus stop, which is bumpy, then you head to turn five. There’s always a bit of front-locking, the front inside wheel is in the air. Then the hairpin is a very slow-speed corner. You turn the steering wheel with one hand. After that it’s the two Portier corners. The second one is important because it brings you to the tunnel, which is a straight line on the track. The tunnel is flat out before you have to brake big for the chicane, where there’s another bump. Then you have Tabac, which is quite a high-speed corner, followed by the swimming pool complex, also very high speed. The braking for La Rascasse is tricky, again easy to front-lock. Then there’s a tricky exit for the last corner – it’s not so easy as it’s up a small crest. When you then go down, you can get wheel-spin, and then you’re back on the start-finish straight.”

A brand-new tire compound debuts at Monaco – the Pirelli P Zero Purple ultrasoft. What do you know about it, what do you expect from it and how do you learn the proper working range for a new tire compound?
“We tried it in testing on Tuesday (at Barcelona). We gave them a go to see how they worked and what was possible with them. It’s going to be interesting to see how they react in Monaco. Of course, it’s a very special track, low grip and low speed. I think we’ll have to find out then.”

Esteban Gutiérrez:
Monaco in Formula One is like the Indianapolis 500 in INDYCAR and the Daytona 500 in NASCAR. Obviously, Monaco is special, but what is the Monaco Grand Prix like for you?

“It’s simply the most iconic race on the calendar. There’s a lot of history. It’s very special to race in Monaco, in general. It’s a very cool place.”

The posh, elegant lifestyle around Monaco meets head on with one of the most demanding and unforgiving circuits in Formula One. Monte Carlo is obviously a cool place to visit, but how difficult is it to race there.
“Well, it is one of the most demanding circuits, but it’s very special. It’s very important to keep your focus all weekend, which becomes a challenge, as you have many different distractions around. It’s a very intense event because it’s small, everything’s compressed.”

Qualifying is always important in Formula One, but is it exceptionally more important at Monaco because it is so tough to pass?
“Yes, definitely. It’s the most difficult track to overtake. I would say that qualifying usually determines how the race will finish.”

Where can you pass at Monaco, and how do you do it without a post-race visit to the stewards’ office?
“Turn one is an opportunity, and also going out of the tunnel when you brake for the low-speed chicane. Those two places are the most viable for overtaking.”

The Monaco Grand Prix has been held since 1929. Doe s the history of that race resonate with you, and is there a particular race that stands out for you?
“Monaco, it’s a dream to win there. It’s a career target for any driver. If you win there, you become part of an important history, which dates back to the roots of Formula One.”

Because Monaco is so technical, do you consider it a driver’s track, where one’s skills can trump another car’s sophistication?
“Yes. The car never stops being a factor, but it is true that the driver can have a lot of influence because it’s a track that is very demanding. You can make a lot of difference with different driving styles, and by having the confidence in your car in order to push and get the maximum out of what you have.”

You’re a guy trying to convince his wife or girlfriend to come to a race. If it’s Monaco, where does he need to take her to ensure she gets to enjoy Monaco beyond just the race?
“To be a guest on one of the boats is one way to enjoy it. Another is the restaurants, which provide a very special atmosphere, especially during the grand prix weekend. It’s a very complicated place to take guests, but it is definitely one of the most special.”

What is your favorite part of the Monaco circuit?
“I love turn one, and also turns three and four up at the casino. That part is really special. I like the tunnel and the swimming pool complex, too.”

Describe a lap around Monaco…
“You come into turn one and it’s quite bumpy under braking. It’s very important to maximize track space on the left, very close to the wall, so you can open up as much as possible to the corner. Then you come up to the casino, with a very high-speed corner, entering with a lot of speed, combined with traction. Then it’s down into the next turn, which is medium speed, coming out very quickly on the right-hand side. There’s a lot of bumps as you head down in the straight line to the corner, which has some banking to the right. Then you have one of the slowest corners on the calendar, and it’s very important to get good traction here. Then the next two corners are right-hand, 90 degrees, which leads to the famous tunnel. This is where you pick up the highest speed on the whole track. It is quite challenging. You arrive with a lot of bumpiness into the next braking zone, and it’s high speed and very tricky. You have to put the car in the right position for a slow-speed chicane, which I really love. Then you have a medium-speed corner, followed by the swimming pool, which is high speed and an insane corner. I really love it as you go very close to the walls almost flat out. Going out of the corner you brake straight away for another chicane. Then you’re on to the last two corners, which provide a nice sensation driving between the walls.”

A brand-new tire compound debuts at Monaco – the Pirelli P Zero Purple ultrasoft. What do you know about it, what do you expect from it and how do you learn the proper working range for a new tire compound?
“In Monaco you can’t really do many things with the tires, like lap preparation. It’s pretty irrelevant. You need to go out, push straight away and get a clean lap with all the traffic. That’s important. It will be interesting with this ultrasoft compound. Hopefully it provides a lot of grip for us.”

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