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Sunday, June 16, 2024

What Magnussen wants to repair to retain his Haas F1 seat

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Final yr’s VF-23 was considerably peculiar; though it confirmed nice tempo in qualifying in Nico Hulkenberg’s management, tyre administration points plagued it within the races. The drivers acknowledged that, to make it to the top on typical methods, they needed to cease racing the vehicles round Haas and successfully pin their hopes on the whims of fortune.

This yr’s automotive is a unique prospect. The group’s check programme in Bahrain eschewed efficiency working in a concerted effort to get a grasp of Pirelli’s vary of tyre compounds, which has given the group way more presence within the battle over minor factors placings.

As soon as once more, nonetheless, it is Hulkenberg who has earned the lion’s share of plaudits. The German has not solely discovered an excellent steadiness in qualifying trim however has been capable of convert that from time to time into factors – important, given the shortage of scoring potentialities for the lower-ranked groups this yr.

Magnussen, nonetheless, has struggled. The Dane has not been capable of faucet into the identical vein of qualifying tempo that Hulkenberg appears to seek out way more simply, and thus his races have been compromised.

His defensive efforts have both been worthy of reward or have tarnished his repute, relying on who you ask, but it surely’s honest to say that they’d be loads much less needed had his qualifying outcomes been as much as par.

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Even in comparison with Haas’ leaner years in 2019 and 2023, Magnussen reckons that 2024’s opening third has been the “most irritating” begin to a yr he is ever skilled. When the vehicles have been poor, Magnussen may very well be depended upon to roll with the punches; now, even with aggressive equipment, he has discovered it arduous to unlock the efficiency obtainable.

“That is most likely been essentially the most irritating begin to a yr I’ve ever had, it simply looks as if an uphill wrestle on a regular basis. It is not clicking. Hopefully, we are able to flip issues round. We now have a robust bundle. So we have to make use of it.”

Photograph by: Erik Junius

His Monaco crash with Perez apart, Magnussen has additionally been employed as Hulkenberg’s rear-gunner greater than he’d like. He accepted that function, not with notably nice gusto, however nonetheless has not completed so with any half-measures.

Serving to Hulkenberg construct a pitstop window in Jeddah cemented his efficacy in that function, even when Yuki Tsunoda and Alex Albon had their noses put out of joint, and the literal over-the-line defence in Miami has additionally outlined his opening eight races.

He a minimum of has a degree to point out for his efforts, one scored in Australia as Haas secured its first double-points end since Austria 2022, Moreover, he is outqualified Hulkenberg twice, notably on the races when Haas did not appear to carry a lot of a candle over one lap.

But, he is additionally been eradicated in Q1 4 instances and has but to make it to the ultimate stage as soon as – one thing Hulkenberg has achieved on 4 events in 2024.

Magnussen refuses to place this right down to luck. He’s conscious that there’s something inside himself halting progress, one thing for which he seeks a solution.

“I hate stating dangerous luck as a result of it is a variety of instances you’ve one thing to say and although issues aren’t going your method and you are feeling such as you’re not getting fortunate, then you definitely form of have that as an excuse.

“We have simply received to maintain our heads cool, and keep Positive in regards to the sturdy bundle that we’ve got – and attempt to have it click on.”

If qualifying is the primary concern, then let’s take a look at the variations between the 2 Haas drivers. China and Miami are the 2 evident examples right here, as each featured Hulkenberg bursting onto the Q3 scene and Magnussen toiling in a failed effort to get out of Q1.

Photograph by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Up for scrutiny is their Q1 deltas, and there are small variations between their respective approaches. In China, Hulkenberg used decrease gears to take the low-speed Turns 6 and 11 to get higher acceleration out of the nook, and his throttle modulation via Turns 7 and eight – each on the strategy and within the nook transition – was a case of shedding time in a single part to realize extra elsewhere. There appears to be a a lot bigger-picture strategy from Hulkenberg over a single lap.

Magnussen is much less constant. He spent most of his Miami Q1 lap up on Hulkenberg’s delta, carrying extra velocity via Turns 6-7-8, though misplaced most of it via his upshifts. The slow-speed underpass part was neck-and-neck; Hulkenberg gained time, however this time his team-mate dropped down a gear to get a greater exit from Flip 16. As a substitute, it was all misplaced within the remaining corners as Magnussen overcooked his braking level, shedding him nearly 0.3s within the course of.

If Magnussen may put all of it collectively, he’d be on Hulkenberg’s tempo with out query. He is higher at carrying extra velocity via corners, however that fearlessness comes again to chunk him too usually – and it’s remoted errors that value time relatively than an outright lack of tempo. Maybe there is a disconnect between driver and automotive, or maybe it is one pushing the opposite too far past its bounds.

The unsentimental nature of F1 implies that, as Magnussen feels the strain to discover a answer, additional strain is positioned upon him as a wild driver market ratchets up in depth. It’s recognized that Haas is contemplating Esteban Ocon for a seat in 2025, whereas Oliver Bearman is probably going up for the opposite seat which will likely be vacated by Hulkenberg subsequent yr.

To chase away the specter of Ocon and reveal to Haas that he stays the precise driver for the function, Magnussen must make a breakthrough. The very best time for that, as ever, was yesterday; the upcoming Canadian Grand Prix is the following greatest alternative. Hassle is, he is solely ever scored as soon as on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve: in 2014, when he completed ninth for McLaren.

Magnussen a minimum of has continuity in his favour, one thing that Haas has largely valued in its F1 tenure. If he begins matching Hulkenberg in making Q3 appearances and persistently knocking on the door of the highest 10, all whereas managing his racecraft to make sure he does not danger a ban owing to the ten factors on his licence, he’ll put himself in a significantly better place.

It will not be simple, but it surely’ll be the distinction between racing in F1 in 2025 and looking out elsewhere to proceed his racing profession.

Watch: Canadian GP Race Preview – Who Will Grasp Montreal?

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