Schumacher and Mazepin found the going to be tough once again, this time at home soil. The German enjoyed a decent qualifying in which he was less than a 0.8s off getting out of Q1, with Mazepin a quarter of a second behind. But the race quickly unravelled for the Russian, who had to pit on the first lap due to a loose headrest. Steiner shed more light on this, in a media session with selected media, including MotorLAT, shortly after Sunday’s race:
"It wasn’t bad. The only issue we had was with the headrest of Nikita, [which] just jumped out, wasn’t properly in, it was only unfortunate with that.
"There are two pins at the back, which were not engaged completely, so therefore we didn’t need to take the headrest off, but we got in the pits to just push it down. It didn’t engage, I don’t know the exact details, but it didn’t engage. And then it came off in turn 3 – I think he said turn 3 or 4 – and you need to come into the pits, otherwise you get a black flag because of safety reasons – the headrest is part of your protection gear – so we brought him in immediately. Which for him was difficult because if the headrest is up you cannot see in the mirrors. We got him in, they just pushed the pin and off he went, and we changed tyres as we had that chance."
However, that wasn’t the end of Nikita’s concerns, as he later reported his feet were ‘getting hot’. Steiner is somewhat perplexed with that, as he explains it is a previously unseen issue:
"He complained about the feet getting hot a few times, a few times they always tried to make it better. But it happens only to him. This is the same chassis as last year, we never had the issue with that. But also, Mick - I didn’t ask specifically Mick – but he never complained about it. So we need to look into why he gets hot. We need to do something maybe next race. There was nothing broke or anything like this, and it was the first time he complained about that one."
On a more positive note, Guenther was very pleased with how the fans engaged with F1 over the weekend, and says ‘there is demand’ for Formula One in the United States:
"I think it’s amazing, it seems like it was a long-hedged plan, because you’ve got the second race next year in Miami. I think also because there is demand here, for Formula One in the U.S., I’m stating the obvious here, given there were 400,000 people here [this weekend]. I think it’s a good thing. We gained so quick, that is amazing to me, positively amazing. We gained this fanbase so quickly, and [it is] so big, so I think it’s a very good thing for Formula One in general – America is still the biggest economy in the world.
"The crowd was fantastic; the fans have been very engaging. Just the quantity of them is an amazing thing, in my opinion, so many people in one place. They’re all very engaged and I think they all enjoyed it. The race in general was very good."
When asked by MotorLAT if the bumpy COTA circuit challenged the team in terms of reliability, Steiner said there was ‘no concern’ and his team coped well with the track surface:
"The drivers, I wouldn’t say complained, but they said they’re at the limit of the bumps, of what is acceptable, but there was never a concern about reliability of the car or the suspension of the car."