Right after the Italian GP, MotorLAT had the chance to interview Gary Gannon - Mick Schumacher's race engineer - and to dicuss with him about his career path and his current job in Haas.
He shared with us some insights on his relationship with Mick Schumacher. He also talked about what makes a driver successful, and he opened up on Haas making some steps forward this year due to the opportunities that the new 2022 regulations gave the team.
Gary Gannon worked with Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen in the early part of his Haas career. He’s been Mick Schumacher race engineer since the German joined the team.
He explained that working with every driver is different, because they require various approches and they ask for different things on the radio:
“Mick wants a lot of information during the race, so I always talk to him in the race. Sometimes it feel like I’m talking too much, but that’s exactly what he wants and what he needs.
“With Romain [Grosjean], he was someone who was much more aware of what he wanted to do, so I didn’t talk a lot to him in the race. While Kevin [Magnussen] is someone in the middle,” he said.
“They’re all very nice people and I really enjoy working with all three of them. They’re all slightly different, but I get along with them very well, so it’s not very different working with them, overall.
"I feel like Romain always knew exactly what to do, Kevin we kinda guide him along with all these tools and things, while Mick is just learning all the time, so we try to give him as much information as we can."
Then Gannon referred to his current position with the 23-year-old German, he said that working with such a young driver is stimulating and definitely a new challange for him.
“It’s definitely a challenge, it’s something new, because when I started - a long time ago - also Max Chilton was a rookie, so we were kind of coming up together and then Romain was very experienced and Kevin was very experienced too.
“With Mick there’s big impacts we can make on his performance with small bits of information, so it feels very rewarding, especially through this year because we kind of struggled in the beginning and now we’re putting together some good results, building up on everything that we’ve done through the year, so it’s very satisfying."
This year Schumacher is definitely under pressure, also because of all of the rumors that he is potentially about to lose his seat because of his performance. Recently he has shown that he’s improving and started to outperform Kevin Magnussen.
Gannon explained that he reacted well because he’s very mature and capable of handling these situations.
“Mick himself is very mature and capable of managing these emotions and not allowing himself to stay down based on a previous bad result, so that makes us not to feel extra pressure to fix a mistake from the past or something,” he said.
“So a lot of it comes from him, not creating a pressurised environment, and then we try not to create a pressurised environment either. We try to reset if we had a bad weekend or a couple of bad weekends, and then we try to build on when we have anything positive.
"Last race we didn’t score points, but the race driving was very positive. The previous race [at Zandvoort] we got through [to Q3] and had the best qualifying of the two years [with Schumacher]. Even though we didn’t get the results in the race, we just build on that qualifying.
"It's always trying to find like some positives to build on, even when we haven't gotten the results we wanted."
Then he opened up on what he thinks are the qualities that make a Formula 1 driver successful.
“I think there’s a lot of fast drivers, so all these guys are able to extract most of performance out of the car. The thing that makes a driver successful I think it’s mental capacity in the car, whilist driving at the limit.
“Doing one lap is one thing, driving through a race is another. A perfect lap, every lap during the race, doing the exact managing we need and thinking about the strategy and the tyres end everything, you have a very special brain that allows you to multitask whilist doing the physical part at the limit. That is what our guys have."
This year Haas has made a few steps forward compared to an extremely difficult 2021 when they failed to score a single point, Gannon explained why:
“I think the new regulations gave the team the opportunity to show what they’re capable of. Basically because of the COVID situation, we didn’t really work on the 2020-21 car. We didn't apply any resources.
"Instead they focused on the new regulations, and that's allowed the very small team that we have to kind of overdeliver car performance.
“I have to say that we actually haven’t maximised the car performance this year, so it’s capable of more than we’ve shown in some races.
"So it wasn’t the actual new regulations that were helpful, but the fact that we focused on them and used our abilities on them is why we're more successful,” Gannon concluded.