Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen have earned points-paying drives at COTA. In the second Formula One race at the 5.513-kilometer (3.426-mile), 20-turn track in 2013, Grosjean finished a career-best second to the dominant Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel. It’s one of three point-paying results Grosjean has achieved in his six career Formula One starts at COTA. Teammate Magnussen finished in the points in his first F1 start there in 2014 when he came home eighth. And in his second Formula One start at COTA in 2016, Magnussen finished a respectable 12th.
This duo has combined for Haas F1 Team’s best season to date, and with their sights set on fourth place in the constructors’ standings, they look to turn Austin into #Haastin with another points-paying performance.
In joining Haas F1 Team, you had to buy into the vision Gene Haas had for how an American Formula One team would operate. What has it been like to be a part of this endeavor and what makes Haas F1 Team different from other Formula One teams?
“From day one, I’ve really enjoyed working with Gene Haas and the team. I like the way the team works. I like its simplicity, and I like how straightforward things are here. The results show that it works, as well. I can’t complain.”
Haas F1 Team has accomplished a lot in less than three years in Formula One. Can you talk about the team’s growth this year and, specifically, how it has outperformed compared to last year?
“I think there are a couple of things that stand out this year. One of them is, obviously, just experience. The team has been growing every year. Everyone is using their experience better and better, while at the same time, gaining more experience. I also think the quality of our car, in terms of the actual build of our car, is much better. We’re better able to put the car on track that we intended to, and not have little errors or faults in production of the car. That quality is a lot better this year, and I think that contributes as well to the performance. Our tire knowledge has improved a lot. In Formula One, Pirelli tires are very tricky, and our management and understanding has improved a lot this year. I would say those are the main things regarding our growth this year.”
You’re racing for an American team in the United States Grand Prix. Because of that, does walking into the paddock at COTA and driving out of the garage and onto the track take on greater significance or give you an added sense of pride?
“There’s absolutely an extra will, or motivation, to do well in the U.S.A. We always try our best. We’re always on maximum attack to get the best result possible. It just carries a bit more significance to get a good result in America and at our home track. America’s obviously not my home country, but you feel like it is racing there that weekend.”
When you first competed at COTA, what did you think of the venue?
“I would say COTA is one of the only new tracks that I really enjoy. Sector one there is incredible. There are also some good spots for overtaking and slipstreaming. I think it’s a really good compromise. Perhaps there’s still a bit too much runoff – a little too safe for my liking – but the layout of the track is great.”
COTA’s first corner is at the top of a hill – a blind and tight left-hander that sends drivers into a section modeled after Silverstone’s Maggotts-Becketts-Chapel complex. How do you approach that corner knowing there’s a moment when you don’t know what’s on the other side?
“The braking zone is really uphill, so you can brake really late. You can’t see the apex of the exit, but the track is so wide you can choose different lines.”
Went to Atlanta to watch the old man win the GTLM Championship yesterday ?? He’s still got it ? pic.twitter.com/RNVVSYAGyu
— Kevin Magnussen (@KevinMagnussen) October 15, 2018
COTA has been described as having the most overtaking opportunities of any track on the Formula One calendar. Is this accurate and, if so, what makes COTA better for overtaking than other venues?
“COTA is a little bit better than most other circuits in that it doesn’t just have one place to overtake. That much is correct. It has a few places to overtake, not just the one or two that most tracks have. Some tracks don’t have any. COTA has a few places where you can line it up for a move. It’s a good track for racing.”
What is your favourite part of COTA?
“Sector one. I like it simply because it’s fast.”
Describe a lap around COTA.
“Simply, it’s a fun track to drive. There’s a lot of elevation. You’re driving up and down. There’s always a lot going on. It’s a bit of a rodeo ride.”
Austin has become a destination venue for the Formula One industry, much like Singapore and Monaco. Why does the city resonate so well with those in Formula One?
“The city’s just great for going out. There are great restaurants and great places for having fun. Having a Formula One race there is the perfect package for having a good weekend.”
How much of Austin have you been able to explore, and is there an area of the city you like the most?
“I love the city, but I haven’t been able to explore it too well with my schedule. You can just feel though, when you’re out for dinner, or driving through the city to get to the track, it’s a place you’d like to explore. You see all these restaurants and bars, there’s a lot of life in the city. It’d be a great spot to have a good night out. I think it’s significant to Formula One events that the city you’re nearest is fun and interesting. People that come to a grand prix don’t just come for the afternoon then go back home. They tend to come from all around the world, and in COTA’s case, all around America. You need to have some nightlife for people to enjoy, and it seems that Austin is pretty cool for that.”
Would you like to see another Formula One race in America?
“I’d love to see another race in America. I really enjoy the country. I love being over there. If there’s one place I’d like to live outside of Denmark, it would be America.”