French Grand Prix: PreviewJuly 19, 2022
Haas F1 Team will continue its 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship season with the French Grand Prix, held at Circuit Paul Ricard, which begins the second half of the campaign.
France has a rich history in motor-racing, with the first internationally recognized race taking place in 1894, before the term Grand Prix was formally conceived in 1906. It was part of the first Formula 1 World Championship season in 1950, with road circuits Reims, Rouen, Clermont Ferrand and Le Mans’ Bugatti Circuit all holding events in the nascent decades.
In 1973 France’s grand prix shifted to permanent circuits, alternating between Dijon-Prenois and Circuit Paul Ricard, until Magny-Cours took over the mantle in 1991. France dropped off the calendar after 2008, citing financial issues, but returned at a reprofiled Circuit Paul Ricard in 2018.
Located on a plateau above the vineyards and lavender fields of Provence, Circuit Paul Ricard was initially renovated as a high-speed test track. At the turn of the century it had innovative concepts, such as trackside sprinklers, and multi-layered run-off in the form of dazzling red and blue stripes designed to reduce car speed at the expense of tire degradation.
Circuit Paul Ricard’s original function as a test facility means it has over 150 possible configurations and Formula 1 utilizes the 5.8km Grand Prix layout, which features the North Chicane along the Mistral Straight.
Haas F1 Team racers Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher have between them participated in three French grands prix. Magnussen finished sixth upon Circuit Paul Ricard’s return in 2018, while Schumacher secured the first Q2 appearance of his Formula 1 career in 2021’s round.
Haas F1 Team enters the second half of the season in a strong vein of form, having scored 19 points across the last two grands prix, to hold seventh in the constructors’ championship.
Guenther Steiner – Team Principal of Haas F1 Team
The team scored back-to-back double-points at Silverstone and the Red Bull Ring. It’s another accomplishment for the team this season – what do those results mean for you and what’s your take on the current form of the team heading into these last two races before the break?
“I’m very happy about it but I’m very happy about it for the team because I’ve told them that they need to believe in themselves because we’ve done it before and we will do it again, and we have so it’s a very good result. I think we have to be careful about getting too overenthusiastic for the next races, so we’re not thinking that this will keep continuing easily – this is very hard work from a lot of people. We will do the best we can and hopefully we can get some more points and have quite a relaxed summer break.”
Would you say the Austrian Grand Prix was as close to a perfect weekend as Haas has had in recent memory with strong practice results, Q3 entries for both cars in qualifying, points scored in the Sprint on Saturday and a double-points finish on Sunday? Just how hard is it to achieve consistency across an entire race weekend and what helps put all the different elements together?
“I would say it’s an almost perfect weekend, there’s always margin to do better in racing until you win everything, but nobody wins everything all of the time. It was a very good weekend and everything was executed as best as we could, there were no real mistakes, nothing done wrong. Every little step can be better so we move up and one day, hopefully coming soon, we’ll get a podium. To pull this together it’s a bunch of people working hard, there’s no secret, it’s just everybody doing their job.”
Haas F1 Team has leapt to seventh in the Constructors’ Championship with 19 points scored in the last two events alone. With missed opportunities earlier in the season for a variety of reasons, do you feel the team’s standing should be higher and are you reassessing 2022’s goals based on recent results?
“I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but if we can keep seventh, or to end up sixth – it would be nice. I think anything above sixth will be very difficult because the other teams are very good and they’re a little bit far ahead, if we can keep on going as we are going, obviously we will not have the perfect race weekends like the last two with both cars scoring points, but we just need to keep on working hard and maybe we can achieve sixth. First of all, we need to make sure that we stay seventh.”
With the VF-22 showing itself to be versatile on a variety of circuits – what are the expectations for this weekend’s French Grand Prix at Circuit Paul Ricard. Is this a track that will also suit the characteristics of the VF-22 and just how important is the momentum being carried to France off the back of points in the previous two races?
“For sure, motivation is very high within the team after two weekends like we had in Silverstone and Austria. Our car is pretty good everywhere, I think our weakest point is high-speed tracks like those in Jeddah and Baku and coming up in Spa and Monza. I’m very confident that if we execute well, we can have points again. I don’t know how many but the reliability in the last two races was good and hopefully it will stay good for the next events before the summer.”