Expectations for Imola: what can Haas expect?

Though both Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher have tackled the classic track of Emilia Romagna in their junior years, both of their encounters were 5 years ago.

With the Italian race weekend just around the corner, what do the Haas drivers expect to achieve in the second race of their Formula 1 careers?

The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, (aka the Imola GP), has made a comeback to the F1 schedule for the second year in a row after its 14 year absence. The 4.9 km track is one of the 17 raced upon during the somewhat improvised season of 2020.

The reinstatement of the Emilia Romagna GP reminded the grid of the high kerb driving and smooth corners that they were missing, causing it to secure a top spot on the 2021 calendar.

For most of the drivers on the grid, it has been just a mere five months since they last shred their tyres around the shortest of Italy’s four tracks. So, in comparison to the rest of the grid the two Haas rookies are at a slight disadvantage as their last run around Emilia Romagna was half a decade ago.

Mazepin and Schumacher are not planning on letting the differences in experience get in their way this weekend. The young pair have taken the extensive two-week break between race weekends to prepare for the upcoming Italian challenge that is Imola.

Mazepin, after reflecting on his stumble of a weekend in Bahrain, commented on what he has been doing to prepare and what he has to achieve to pull off a great race this coming weekend:

“Simulator driving has been very important as I haven’t raced at the circuit in five years… the qualifying lap is very important because there are very little overtaking opportunities…Being on it from the first minute, that’s the key factor for the race weekend.”

Like Mazepin, his teammate, Schumacher, also commented on what he has been doing in preparation to build upon his 16th position finish in Bahrain:

“Team meetings to put a point on what we learned, trying to put it all together ahead of Imola…and preparing physically while doing a bit of recovery too. “

Despite the Haas pairing having both competed here before, the two have never raced this track in an F1 car. But much like his dad, Schumacher isn’t fazed by this new challenge as he describes how, for him, this experience will be a special one:

“It’s amazing to drive a Formula 1 car, so to do that on a super cool track will be even more special. I’m looking forward to it.”

Whilst the drivers are looking forward to racing full throttle in Imola, Guenther Steiner , Haas F1 team principal, is aware of the challenge the team face, as with only one race of the season down they are still on a learning journey with two brand new drivers and are still on the road to improvement:

“It is quite a big challenge…but we knew the challenge therefore it is no big surprise. We decided to do this, and we need to get through it.”

Luckily for Haas, from an engineering perspective, the team are familiar with the track and in the eyes of their team principal, this will advance the drivers on their learning curve as well as aiding the car set-up – especially with the new aerodynamic regulations in place.

Steiner said:

“It’s always good to have been at a race track. Everything you know, and what you’ve learned, it’s all useful. The more you’ve been the better it is. For sure it will help the team and our rookie drivers.”

Although Steiner’s words are beaming with optimism, he does not expect to see Haas in the running for points any time soon. The Italian commented on the formation of the grid from last weekend and much like the rest of the teams, it is seemingly unlikely that Haas will be pushing the top-tier teams for a spot on the podium in Imola:

“The grid looked exactly as I expected it to…I think we will see a fight between Red Bull and Mercedes for wins this season.”

Needless to say, with a roundup of what Haas expects for the coming weekend, the independent team are looking to improve all-round on their previous performance.

If the rookies can produce an impressive qualifying lap and put into practice what they have learnt from their debut races, Haas could be in for a spectacular spring at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.