Haas ’ Guenther Steiner about the team’s problems in Singapore and how they will be decided for the upcoming Malaysian Grand prix.
After a difficult weekend like the one you experienced in Singapore, how do you put it behind you and focus on the next opportunity, in this case, Malaysia?
We analyze what we’ve done and find out what went wrong and try to put measures in place so it doesn’t happen again. On the morale side, I think the guys were a little bit down after Singapore, but I think if you are a real racer you always try hard again and never give up. I think everyone is up for it and rule No.1 for Malaysia is to make up for what we didn’t do in Singapore.
As team principal, you wear many hats. When you have a difficult race weekend and you’re dealing with frustrated personnel, how do you juggle the technical aspects of the car with the personalities that make up the race team?
On the technical side, I’ve got very good people and that allows me to focus on other aspects of the team. I have to drive the team’s focus, so I try to motivate them again and make them hungrier because we haven’ shown what we are fully able to do.
Can you explain the brake-by-wire system and what makes it so complex?
It’s basically a system in which the rear of the car adjusts with how much the engine is braking with the ERS (Energy Recovery System) and how much the driver is braking with the normal brake. That is a very complex part of the car, but our problem was very simple. A connector fell off. To get to the connector you have to take the gearbox off and, obviously, there was no time to do that.
How do you go about troubleshooting the brake-by-wire system and how do you ultimately come up with a solution?
It was strange because in the first corner it worked, but all of the sudden it went away. When Romain came back in, all of the electronics personnel tried to reset all of the software settings and it didn’ work. The guys then took the bodywork off to see if there was any connector that wasn’ connected outside of the gearbox, and there wasn’. So at that stage everyone was quite sure it was the brake-by-wire system, which is inside the gearbox. It takes one-and-a-half hours to take the gearbox off and, at that point, the race would be over.
The logistics of Formula One means the racecar was out of your hands Sunday night after Singapore. When do the mechanics get to put their hands back on the car and make the necessary changes to the brake-by-wire system?
Sunday night after the race in Singapore, we took the gearbox off and it was as simple as reconnecting it. We’ll manufacture a device in Europe to be sent via air freight to Malaysia to ensure the connector doesn’ fall off again. It will be fitted on the car before we get on track in Malaysia.
You had some updates to the car at Singapore, specifically a new front wing, floor and brake ducts. Did they perform as you had hoped or is the data inconclusive because of Grosjean’s limited running time?
We didn’t run the new front wing because the drivers weren’t sure how to set the car up with the new wing. We need to re-test it in Malaysia. It’s very difficult to test something in Singapore due to the walls. The readings of the data are sometimes different because you get different aero data when you’re running between two walls. The brakes ducts all worked. They will be on for the rest of the year with no problem.
Guenther Steiner: Some of the tire data from Singapore is transferable
How important is it to log as many laps as possible at Sepang to not only overcome the difficulties from Singapore, but to get comparable data from two racecars regarding the updates that debuted at Singapore?
If we can get back to a normal weekend routine and get through the program, we can get the data we need. If not, we can’ do it properly. In Singapore, Romain stopped after FP1. Esteban’s focus was more on the tires and not the front wing. So we didn’t have the data. In Malaysia, if we run a normal routine, we can test the wings back to back and get the data. In Singapore, we didn’t have that luxury because we had to send Esteban out to get data on the tires.
Despite all the adversity the team faced in Singapore, the car continued to show speed and Gutierrez logged another 11th-place finish, one spot out of the points. Does that make you think the weekend wasn’t as bad as it seemed or does it increase the level of frustration because you’re so close to scoring points?
It definitely increases the level of frustration. If you finish 11th with one car, you wonder if you could’ve finished 10th or better with the other car.
Singapore is hot and humid. Malaysia is hot and humid. With these two races being so close together and run in similar environs, is more data transferable from one race to the next?
Some of the tire data is transferable, but not all. But at Singapore, we run during the night and in Malaysia we run during the day. There will be a big difference in the climate conditions.