Raoul Hyman and Lochie Hughes Get a Behind-The-Scenes View of F1
CHARLOTTE (May 17, 2023) – The Formula Regional Americas Championship Powered by Honda (FR Americas) and Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda (F4 U.S.) 2022 championship-winning drivers, Raoul Hyman and Lochie Hughes, were treated to a behind-the-scenes look at Formula 1 as VIP guests of the Haas F1 Team at the Miami Grand Prix earlier this month.
With passes in hand, Hyman and Hughes were welcomed into the Formula One World Championship paddock at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium and into the Haas F1 Team Garage. Their day was filled with a slate of meet and greets with everyone from team principal, Guenther Steiner, to drivers Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hülkenberg, and even Gary Gannon, Race Engineer on Hülkenberg’s No. 27.
“First we sat down with Gary Gannon and he ran us through what they were doing throughout the day,” said Hyman. “We were able to ask him a couple of questions, including how they approach the weekend, so that gave us a really good idea of what to expect.
“It was nice because he actually asked us about our careers, too,” Hyman continued. “I asked him about the driving styles of their two drivers and he spoke a bit about Hülkenberg’s style, specifically. He explained that he’s more controlled on entry and then prioritizes mid and exit; it’s a more technical style and makes sense with how he’s been able to get into so many different cars and still perform.”
From there, they headed to Haas’ F1 Paddock Hospitality Unit to meet with team principal, Steiner.
“Walking through the Formula One paddock, every single person you look at is someone you’ve seen on TV, so just to be there mingling with them was awesome,” Hughes said. “For us to spend time with everyone, talking about the cars and learning a thing or two, was really special. With Guenther, we talked about just normal stuff, but also how his life has changed since Drive To Survive. I did ask him if they were looking for a driver [Hughes chuckles], but he said they had them all locked in. One thing that really surprised me was how much he knew about other series and just what’s going on in the racing world. It was really cool. His advice to us was basically to just keep winning.”
Then, it was back to the Haas F1 Team Garage to meet with drivers Magnussen and Hülkenberg.
“Getting to meet Kevin [Magnussen] and Nico [Hülkenberg] when they were both so busy was really cool,” said Hughes. “We had a quick chat about INDYCAR and how different the INDYCAR racecar is from the F1 car. They specifically told us about the difference in how heavy the steering is in an INDYCAR racecar because those cars don’t have power steering.”
After all the meet and greets, the drivers were invited to stay in the Haas F1 Team Garage during both free practice sessions. It also gave Hyman time to connect with an old friend and former competitor—Pietro Fittipaldi. Back in 2013, the two drivers raced against each other in the BRDC British Formula 4 Championship. Today, Fittipaldi is in his fifth consecutive season as the official test and reserve driver for Haas F1 Team.
“I went back to the engineering room because Pietro [Fittipaldi] was there,” said Hyman. “It was really interesting watching him; I was able to see how he would approach the session to try to assist the team. He’s the reserve driver, so he has to help the team, as opposed to just being at the track waiting to jump in the car. He would look through all the live telemetry and the video, giving feedback to the engineers during the session with what he thought the drivers could improve on from a driving perspective. He’d even try to see what they could from other teams. He’d feed that information to the engineers, and then the engineers decided what to tell the drivers.”
With their Miami Grand Prix experience complete and both drivers headed back to the track to chase their own careers. The drivers agreed they couldn’t help but notice some similarities between the F1 paddock and those they race in on a weekly basis.
“Once you’re standing in the back of the garage and you get past the whole ‘wow, this is F1’ feeling, you realize it’s a normal race team,” observed Hyman. “I was really interested to see what everyone’s role is, how to gain an advantage, and how they actually run the team. Seeing what Pietro was doing was quite interesting. You don’t really know what a reserve driver does besides the simulator stuff and just being there as a backup, so it was really interesting to learn more about that.”
“It really was like any other race team,” Hughes agreed. “When you’re in the garage, you see all the mechanics eating lollies just like our mechanics would be doing. They’re talking and swearing—just doing all the usual stuff that mechanics do. It feels like a normal team, but on a much larger scale, with more people, more fans, just more everything.”
Hyman has since returned to Japan to compete in this weekend’s SUPER FORMULA race at Autopolis. With a scholarship from Honda Performance Development and Honda Racing Corporation as last year’s FR Americas champion, Hyman is still fighting for his first SUPER FORMULA podium with three races complete this season.
Meanwhile, Hughes will make a pit stop at Road America for this weekend’s F4 U.S. race, where he will serve as a driver coach to his fellow Jay Howard Driver Development drivers. Then, it’s off to Lucas Oil Raceway for Hughes to make his very first oval start with USF2000 next week. With seven rounds complete, Hughes currently leads the point standings after getting his first win in the series’ last outing.
“Everything I did last year has helped me this year,” explained Hughes. “I made a lot of mistakes, but learned from them. Having the chance to learn so many of the tracks that I’m racing at this year while running F4 U.S. last year was really helpful, too. That’s what F4 is perfect for—learning.”