Formula 1 Racing

What Magnussen needs to fix to retain his Haas F1 seat

What Magnussen needs to fix to retain his Haas F1 seat

Last year’s VF-23 was somewhat peculiar; although it showed great pace in qualifying in Nico Hulkenberg’s control, tyre management issues plagued it in the races. The drivers stated that, to make it to the end on conventional strategies, they had to stop racing the cars around Haas and effectively pin their hopes on the whims of fortune.

This year’s car is a different prospect. The team’s test programme in Bahrain eschewed performance running in a concerted effort to get a grasp of Pirelli’s range of tyre compounds, which has given the team much more presence in the fight over minor points placings.

Once again, however, it’s Hulkenberg who has earned the lion’s share of plaudits. The German has not only found a good balance in qualifying trim but has been able to convert that on occasion into points – vital, given the scarcity of scoring possibilities for the lower-ranked teams this year.

Magnussen, however, has struggled. The Dane has not been able to tap into the same vein of qualifying pace that Hulkenberg seems to find much more easily, and thus his races have been compromised.

His defensive efforts have either been worthy of praise or have tarnished his reputation, depending on who you ask, but it’s fair to say that they’d be a lot less necessary had his qualifying results been up to par.

Even compared to Haas’ leaner years in 2019 and 2023, Magnussen reckons that 2024’s opening third has been the “most frustrating” start to a year he’s ever experienced. When the cars have been poor, Magnussen could be depended upon to roll with the punches; now, even with competitive machinery, he has found it hard to unlock the performance available.

“That’s probably been the most frustrating start to a year I’ve ever had, it just seems like an uphill struggle all the time. It’s not clicking. Hopefully, we can turn things around. We have a strong package. So we’ve got to use it.”

Photo by: Erik Junius

His Monaco crash with Perez aside, Magnussen has also been employed as Hulkenberg’s rear-gunner more than he’d like. He accepted that role, not with particularly great gusto, but nonetheless has not done so with any half-measures.

Helping Hulkenberg build a pitstop window in Jeddah cemented his efficacy in that role, even if Yuki Tsunoda and Alex Albon had their noses put out of joint, and the literal over-the-line defence in Miami has also defined his opening eight races.

He at least has a point to show for his efforts, one…

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