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Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean

A look ahead to the British Grand Prix, including a Q&A with Team Principal Guenther Steiner, as we preview the first of two races at Silverstone.

The inaugural Formula 1 World Championship grand prix took place at Silverstone back in 1950 and the circuit will be the host venue for the next two rounds of the 2020 season.

First up is the British Grand Prix, an event that can trace its history back to 1926, and has taken place at legendary venues Brooklands, Aintree, Brands Hatch and, consecutively since 1987, Silverstone. The British Grand Prix is one of just two grands prix to have featured in each season of the Formula One World Championship and the 5.891-kilometer (3.660-mile), 18-turn Silverstone Circuit is located within the heart of the UK’s Motorsport Valley. Seven of Formula One’s 10 teams are based within a short drive of Silverstone and for Haas F1 Team it is a brief journey from its European workshop in Banbury.

The circuit is renowned for its iconic fast and fearsome sections, such as Copse, Maggotts and Becketts, and Abbey, putting extreme G-forces and stresses through drivers, cars and tires alike. For that reason tire supplier Pirelli has nominated the C1, C2 and C3 compounds – the hardest trio from its range of five-dry weather tires. 

The venue brings back happy memories for Haas F1 Team, most memorably in 2018 when Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean locked out row four of the grid. Both drivers have race-winning pedigree at Silverstone, with Magnussen victorious in British Formula 3, while Grosjean was triumphant during his march to the GP2 Series title, both in 2011. The crew heads to Silverstone buoyed by its first top 10 finish of the 2020 campaign after Magnussen rose six places to score a point at the most recent event in Hungary. 

It will be the first time in history that the British Grand Prix has taken place as late as August and despite its summer date eyes will still be pointed skywards at the fickle weather systems that can disrupt running, keeping teams and drivers on their toes. 

On-track action for Formula One’s British Grand Prix will run across three days (July 31 to August 2), with two practice sessions Friday, final practice and qualifying Saturday, and the 52-lap race at 14:10 local time (09:10 EST/14:10 BST) Sunday.


Guenther Steiner, Team Principal

The Hungarian Grand Prix proved to be the highlight, in terms of the overall performance of the VF-20, from the opening three races of the 2020 campaign. What made the difference there?

“The Hungarian circuit was a little less power sensitive, therefore in the race we had a fair showing – a decent race pace. Qualifying was not to our liking to be honest; the advantage of the other cars is just too high. Like always though, we try to do our best each session.”

 

While the call to pit both drivers on the formation lap in Hungary ultimately netted a pair of 10-second penalties post-race, is it a decision you stick behind given how the actual race played out?

“For sure we would do the same thing again. The 10 second penalty was a little bit ambiguous. Unfortunately, we cannot appeal it because it’s a time penalty – you’re not allowed to appeal those ones. It was never done before, and it looks like if it’s never been done before – and there’s no clear regulation, you get a penalty. We need to move on from this, but for sure it spiced the race up for everybody. I don’t think we should stop doing these things in racing, otherwise accountants can race in Formula One.”  

 

Do you adjust the team’s approach moving forward for qualifying knowing that so-far it hasn’t been an area of strength for the VF-20? Do you feel Q2 should be achievable for both cars on Saturday afternoons?

“I obviously feel we should get in there but unfortunately we don’t. We’re just lacking the speed in qualifying and that’s something we have to live with as we’re not planning any big upgrades and there are no engine upgrades. We just need to fight and always try to do a good job, then we can hope we move on.”

 

It feels like we’ve had a bit of everything across the first three race weekends - notably the one thing that has been consistent is the inconsistency – from variable weather session-to-session, reliability issues, qualifying performance versus race performance etc. Has it been hard to get a true feeling on where things stack up? And now that you’ve had time to reflect a little, what are you hoping for in terms of how the team develops the VF-20?

“Yes, we’ve had a lot of inconsistency, but I think we know pretty well where we’re at. We’re not the fastest midfield car this year and we just need to deal with that one. We’re always trying to get the best out of the package. We’ve not planned any development for this year, so we have to focus on getting the best out of what we’ve got this season and look to next year to try to do something better for that season. It will not be an easy year but we’re here to stay.”

 

What are the ingredients for a successful weekend setting up a car for Silverstone with its long, fast corners and how much of a role does experience, both driver and team, play in working through that set-up plan?

“Silverstone is a very challenging track for the drivers – they can obviously help a lot, like any other track, to be fast. Silverstone, with the high-speed corners, it’s for sure a challenge for the drivers, but also for the team. Normally our car was pretty good on high-speed corners, this year I think it’s a little bit different. We’re just not fast enough on the corners. We just have to try to find the balance between medium-speed downforce and not losing out too much on the high-speed parts of the track.”
 

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