Kevin Magnussen explained how he turned around his fortunes in qualifying this season after initially struggling with his Haas.
He claimed fourth on the grid at the Miami Grand Prix, which is the highest starting position Haas has ever achieved for a grand prix. Although his efforts were flattered by a timely red flag in qualifying, it was this first time this season Magnussen had out-qualified team mate Nico Hulkenberg, who is back in F1 after three years out of a full-time seat.
It followed a positive weekend in Baku for Magnussen where he made it through to SQ2 in sprint qualifying, despite going out in Q1 the day before due to a technical problem.
Before Baku he often struggled on Saturdays. He was eliminated in Q1 at the Bahrain Grand Prix, and almost a second slower than Hulkenberg in Melbourne.
“We’ve been experimenting a lot with the mechanical set-up,” Magnussen told media including RaceFans ahead of last weekend’s race.
“There’s a few new things mechanically on the car this year that we’ve been exploring a lot. That comes with a cost when you do that.
“If it doesn’t work you have to spend a lot of time figuring that out. Then eventually for qualifying, that’s when parc ferme starts so you have to decide. Often we’ve gone back to a more traditional set-up, and then you’ve spent all of your practice with a different car.
“When you go back to a completely different set-up for qualifying then you go into qualifying not fully knowing that car. Then it can cost one or two tenths and can cost a mistake, and I think that’s what we’ve been doing a few times this year.”
Magnussen said the reduced practice time available to the team at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix sprint race weekend led them to stick with a known set-up, which paid off.
“For Baku, also given there was only one practice, we went in with this set-up that we know,” he added. “This area of the set-up that we know very well and that was way easier.
“Then I have technical [problems] here with the car both in FP1 and in qualifying, but at least we put a car on-track that I knew was going to be good and we’ll be on that approach a little more this year.”