Haas F1 Team’s Guenther Steiner, Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen say back-to-back races at same circuit will be a new learning, and racing with empty stands a big change.
COVID-19 pandemic has caused some changes to F1 that, while forced, present unique opportunities. One of such changes has been the implementation of back-to-back races at identical venues, like Austria and then in United Kingdom.
A move motivated by the need for a F1 calendar of greater size, a schedule with races of such format is particularly novel, and there is potential that this will greatly affect the competitive landscape, with teams having a ‘second chance’ of sorts to get things right if they failed to do so the first time around.
This – combined with the amount of data teams will be able to collect – should create an interesting situation, and one which Haas F1 team boss Steiner expects his team will be able to learn a lot from.
“It’s a new situation to have two races at the same track in the one year, especially one week after the other,” said Steiner. “We’ll have to see how it works out. Undoubtedly, we will learn a lot in the first weekend and hopefully what we learn we can put in place for the second weekend.
“I’m just really looking forward to being back out racing and getting the most out of both events.” Haas’ Grosjean had a different viewpoint. The Frenchman said instead that he doesn’t expect there being a great deal to learn from the races at Austria due to the lack of variety. With that said, he expressed his hope that the car will be strong from the off.
“No, because it’s only one race track and one layout – a particular one too at the Red Bull Ring,” said Grosjean. “I don’t think we can assess how the car behaves after the two races in Austria. I do hope it’s going to be working well there so we can start our season on a high.” On the other hand, Magnussen was undecided.
“I don’t really know, it’s a good question,” said Magnussen. “I don’t think it’s going to be a benefit or a disadvantage. You of course learn more about the car with every track you go to, with different corner speeds, conditions, temperatures, tarmac and stuff like that. In that way, we’ll learn slightly less, but it’s going to be good just to get a read on where we stand compared to the other teams and to get racing again.”
Another defining feature of the 2020 F1 season start will be the lack of fans, and this, too, is something that the Haas boys – including Magnussen – discussed. The Dane, specifically was openly disappointed by the situation, even though he accepts it’s what needs to happen in order to safely return to racing.
“There’s no way to replicate it,” said Magnussen. “It’ll be very quiet and weird with no fans on-site. It is what it is, and we’ll just have to try and make the best of it. We’ll aim to have good, entertaining races to show on television. The atmosphere will obviously be different, not as good, but I’m personally very excited to get back in the car and get back to racing. I hope the fans will be able to have fun watching us on the telly.”
Grosjean had a similar attitude towards the absence of fans, as he stated the atmosphere will be missed, but that the positives outweigh the negatives. “It’s going to be very different,” he said. “We’re going to miss the support of the fans and miss seeing them in the grandstands. We’ll miss the enthusiastic atmosphere they bring to a weekend.
“It’ll be strange, it’ll be different, but everyone will adjust and get used to it. We’re going racing, which is important for everyone, so then hopefully we can open the doors to the public very soon and get back to normal.”
Haas boss Steiner added: “For me, it’s the first time in my career – which is pretty long, over 30 years in motorsport, that we won’t have fans at an event. The fans are the backbone of any event. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait a little bit longer this year to have the fans around us again.
“I’m sure they’ll be back, and we’ll be open to them returning as soon as they can. We just cannot do it now otherwise we would more than welcome them back. I hope all the fans tune in on television or on the internet when we race and come back when the opportunity arises for them. For sure though, we will miss them, but hope to see them soon.”
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