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Kevin Magnussen boosts Haas F1 in crowded midfield constructors’ battle
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Kevin Magnussen
Posted By: Editor   |  10 Apr 2017   |  6:54 pm GMT  |  41 comments

There is some great racing in the midfield in Formula 1 this year and it will be a close fight amongst the teams outside the top three all season long. Williams has been dragged into it, while three teams have yet to get off the mark points wise.

Kevin Magnussen’s eighth place finish in the Chinese Grand Prix has got Haas F1 off the mark with points and this weekend sees the team return to the scene of its best result in F1, fifth last season.

The American squad finished eighth in the constructors’ championship in its debut year in the series in 2016, with many of its points coming from good results early in the season, such as that result in Bahrain.

This year hasn’t been such a fairy tale; a water leak cost Romain Grosjean any chance of points when he was running well in Australia, but Magnussen produced a battling performance in Shanghai last weekend to score his first four points for his new team.

Kevin Magnussen

Haas F1 switched both its drivers from the intermediate tyres to slicks on the second lap of the wet-to-dry race in China, and Magnussen moved from 12th place in the early stages to record his first points finish since Singapore last year, catching and passing the two Force India drivers, Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez, in the process.

The Danish driver, who has now driven all four of F1’s hybrid engines (Mercedes, Honda, Renault and Ferrari) at grand prix events since the start of the 2014 season, identified his ability to keep his front tyres alive – a challenge with the long corners at the Shanghai circuit – as the key to his good result.

He said: “It was a good race. I had fun out there. I had a good car all the way through the race. I’d made a really poor start, so to come back from that and push, I was really happy.

“I was able to look after the front tyres, which I think was key, along with working with the team to get the car in the right window. The race was really well managed from the team. It was good strategy to get me out on the supersoft after the intermediates. You had to fight for it, in terms of passing. It’s not easy, but you also have grip, so you can take different lines and get close in alternative ways.

Kevin Magnussen

“It’s so much more fun when you’re fighting in the points. I’m happy for the team and we’re looking forward to the coming races.”

Haas’ team principal Guenther Steiner hailed Magnussen’s performance in China and outlined his belief that consistency would be the key to his squad repeating its 2016 successes in its second year. Grosjean, who started 19th in Shanghai after being given a penalty for ignoring yellow flags in qualifying, made an extra stop behind the safety car compared to his team-mate but fought his way back to 11th, one spot away from giving Haas its first ever double points finish.

“For Kevin to score points on his second race is fantastic,” said Steiner. “I think Romain had a challenging weekend. In Australia it was Kevin’s turn to have a challenging weekend and here it was Romain, though he wasn’t lucky in Australia either.

“Again, I think we showed what we can do and that we are what we think we are. We just have to do it consistently. We can then look to a good season in front of us.”

Guenther Steiner Haas F1

Magnussen’s eighth place has moved Haas four points clear of Renault, Sauber and McLaren – all three of those squads are yet to score in 2017 – and it is just eight points behind Toro Rosso, which is fourth in the constructors’ standings on 12 points.

Force India has 10 – Perez and Ocon gave the Silverstone-based team its second double points finish from two races so far with ninth and tenth in China – while Williams, which lost out when Lance Stroll retired on lap one after a collision with Perez, and Felipe Massa dropped down the order after losing tyre temperature behind the Safety Car, has eight.

Renault failed to score last weekend after its drivers struggled following their switch to slicks (Jolyon Palmer also started 20th after dropping out in Q1 and was also penalised for ignoring yellow flags), and Nico Hulkenberg was hit with 15-seconds worth of time penalties for overtaking under the virtual and real safety cars.

Nico Hulkenberg

Sauber’s weekend in China was mainly notable for Antonio Giovinazzi’s two crashes – one in qualifying that caused the yellow flags Grosjean and Palmer were punished for failing to slow enough for, and his race ending shunt that brought out the Safety Car. The Swiss team did at least score its second race finish of the season as Marcus Ericsson came home 15th.

McLaren had another tough weekend. Stoffel Vandoorne did not progress out of Q1 and a fuel problem ended his race after just 17 laps, while Fernando Alonso retired when a transmission problem struck his MCL32. Alonso had been enjoying a strong race and was running well in the points and fighting with Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz (who finished seventh) just before the issue occurred.

Fernando Alonso

Renault and McLaren look set to score points before too long and, although Sauber’s situation remains difficult, the midfield fight is set to be very close in 2017. Haas’ early points could therefore be vital to its finishing position at the end of the season.

What did you make of Kevin Magnussen’s performance in Chinese Grand Prix? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JA on F1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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1

What caused the great timedifferences in FP1 and FP2 today ? Perhaps MEDIUMS in FP2 ???

2

Great drive from Mag. A shame Grosjean didn’t have such a good weekend. I think Haas can seriously compete with Toro for the midfield crown.

3

Haven’t read much about Renault, despite their 7th on the grid putting them, and the Hulk, at the front of the midfield.
2 questions :
– Did they get their unreliable power harvester working for China (having had to use the older, heavier one in Oz) ?
– How did the Hulk miss the safety car deployment twice ? Bad communication, technical glitch, or driver error ?

Answers on a post please 😉

4

KMag has just been promoted at the official Formula1.com website as executing the most entertaining opening lap in China, so even passing Verstappen’s grade. KMag had a really poor off-the-line get away due to being on dry weather tires while all around him were on the intermediates. “…but his driving over the subsequent  5.4km was nothing short of impeccable, brilliantly showcasing the unbelievable spacial awareness and hand-eye coordination possessed by modern F1 drivers. Watch out in particular for the sequence from Turn 8 to Turn 10 when Magnussen dramatically bangs wheels with McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne, has another tyre-rubbing moment with Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber and then comes within metres of getting caught up in Sergio Perez’s clash with Lance Stroll. Hard but fair, uncompromising but respectful – a slice of F1 racing at its best!”

https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/features/2017/4/f1-video-best-onboard-action-from-china.html

Great battles and racing in the mid-field – Wish we would see more close racing like this in the tv feed !

5

Last Sunday was as good as i’ve seen K-Mag drive in quite some time.

6
Spinodontosaurus

It’s only been two races but looking at the average percentage difference between each teams’ best qualifying lap and Mercedes’ shows us how close the midfield battle is.

Ferrari: 0.26%
Red Bull: 1.53%
Williams: 2.37%
Haas: 2.50%
Toro Rosso: 2.51%
Renault: 2.73%
Force India: 2.86%
McLaren: 3.44%
Sauber: 4.22%

McLaren aren’t really in the midfield scrap yet, although Alonso is doing his best to drag the thing into it anyway.

7

Your statistics are very interesting but some teams are better in qualifying than in race and vice versa, so your numbers inspired me to do a similar exercise, but looking at race times – though only for the latest race, the 2017 Chinese GP.

I have compared average lap times of each team to the average lap time of the winner – Lewis Hamilton. For those that were lapped, I have of course used 55 laps rather than 56. I have left out completely those that did not finish the race since I think that the difference in pace between lap 55 and 56 is not really significant while including early laps with heavy cars certainly would skew the results.

These are average times per team so for those teams where only one car finished, it is just that car’s average lap time but otherwise it is the average of both cars.

Benchmark (Lewis Hamilton) 1:44.574 0.00%
Mercedes 1:45.010 0.42%
Ferrari 1:45.059 0.46%
Red Bull Racing Tag Heuer 1:45.389 0.78%
Toro Rosso 1:45.876 1.24%
Haas-Ferrari 1:46.956 2.28%
Force India-Mercedes 1:46.971 2.29%
Renault 1:47.585 2.88%
Williams-Mercedes 1:47.716 3.00%
Sauber-Ferrari 1:48.234 3.50%

8

I seem to remember a Sauber finishing twelfth in Melbourne a fortnight ago in the hands of Giovinazzi…

9

I’m not sure why you think McLaren look like they will score points soon. Are you expecting a race to stop at half distance? It looks to me like Alonso can run midfield, but only by hammering the car so hard it fails, drive shaft failure from too long on the rumble strips?
I hope you’re right, all the teams need to have their day.

As for Sauber, I’ve asked before with no reply, but I’m sure last year they said that engine manufacturers would only be offering 1 engine version. Ferrari are still providing an old under powered, undeveloped unit to Sauber. It’s fundamentally unfair of the FIA and Ferrari. Why is it happening, did they change there minds or was a special case made?

10

I think it is a combination of production limitations and Sauber not being able to afford both up-to-date unit and aerodynamic/chassis upgrades.

11
søren christensen

Maybe, as a Dane, I am slightly biased, but honestly, I found the performance from Haas/Magnussen top class. He had a bad start, but stayed calm, and with some great overtaking during the first laps, he was back in the 8-12 placed bunch fast. Great tyre management, and the right pit decisions, meant he could push hard later in the race, where we saw him pass , a.o. the 2 Force Indias. In China, we could see, that KMag thrives well in the Haas team, where the layers of management are simple and easy (1 owner, 1 manager) . The whole Haas F1 operation is more about pure racing, as we saw in the old days a Williams team do it. A great looking car, made from one of the best manufacturers in the world, combined with the best engine packages, And a, in F1 terms, limited number, but very good, people involved in running the business.

12
Tornillo Amarillo

Mag did an outstanding move over Perez from the outside, drove like Max, good stuff. A different driver this time.

13

Hmmm he for once did not use his mouth!

14
Craig in Manila

Q. Is the 2017 HAAS still using a chassis built by Dallara ?

If so :

– They clearly need some kudos/mention for building another good chassis. We seem to rarely hear their name mentioned even tho the chassis is (clearly) pretty fundamental !

– Would ANY team (new or existing) be allowed to buy the same chassis from Dallara and also use it ?

15

Dallara is only used to physically make the chassis.

Like Dome for Force india.

Haas has recruited his own Chassis and Aero Designers – who had both made points scoring cars for smaller teams in the past.

16

Great race from K Mag. Seems happier at Haas. Glad he is showing his skills in the Haas car that is even better than a Renault (but that will change as Renault develop) and sadly a Mclaren (that may not change until they get a new engine manufacturer) unlike the Mclaren Mercedes car which was a superior model.
Haas are slowly but surely improving. That’s what you get with a professional Racing brand.
Can see them being higher up next year.
Renault also as they increase their development team.

17

Mclaren has more problems than only the Honda engine. Reliability of the rest is very poor to.

18

Kevin Magnussen was a credit to the Haas team, with a drive that included his overtaking tanacity and a very similar effort from Romain Grosjean, where another lap may well have provided double points, also, not forgetting all the Engineers great back-up at trackside.

19

Being American, I am admittedly prejudiced, but I am very pleased with the progress of Team Haas. The chassis, even being designed by a third party is the best looking in the entire field. Maybe enlightened aesthetics can beat the live-and-die by the wind tunnel experts! This years less fickle tires should be a big help this year to all teams. Very happy with both Magnussen and Grosjean.

20

Best looking in the entire field? I can only assume that you love the livery as the thumb nose is one of the most squared off and least refined designs and the bodywork is nowhere near as sculpted as any of the top teams or indeed the McLaren, Torro Rosso or the Renault in the midfield!

21

Haas have benefited from their relationship with Ferrari.

This is not a criticism; I think it’s a model that should be more widely adopted. It would give new teams a chance to be competitive rather than languishing at the back of the field and going bankrupt after two seasons.

22

In this world, you can be in the wrong place at the wrong time…………….which sums up Vandoorne. He’s done everything thus far asked of him, winning the GP2 championship, even being “farmed out” to race in Japan last year, and now he gets his opportunity to race a McHonda………………and probably wishes he hadn’t.

Reminds me a bit of Nick Heidfeld in his debut year, who won the 1999 F3000 cup and was a much touted young hotshoe, only to join Prost in 2000 at the worst possible time……………

Wrong place, wrong time…………

23
Tornillo Amarillo

But Vandoorne is in F1 for staying, beyond McLaren I think.
Champion material I guess, like Sainz, Ocon.

24

Good point GB, not all newcomers to F1 are so fortunate as e.g. Verstappen, Hamilton and Jacque Villeneuve, to get into a top car for their first season.

25

VER started in a Torro Rosso.. not really a great car.

26

Alonso started in a minardi, if u r truly quick you will make it

27

And Vettel with Toro Rosso.

28

If Vettel is the “Prom King”, Kevin and Romain maybe trying to become the “Prom Queen” next year at Ferrari 😛

after all its Ferrari that is on the look out for thier next driver!

29

Ricciardo to Ferrari next year..😉

30

The first half of the season before the Summer break must be crucial for Romain and Kevin, as both drivers can end up replacing Kimi next year. I personally think Ferrari need a young hungry driver next to Vettel and Romain really fits the bill, but I do not mind Perez at Ferrari either.

Esteban Gut., Ericson, Nasr have zero chance to ever become a race driver at Ferrari based on thier average performances, while Kevin, Romain, Perez (perhaps Sainz?) definitely have the heart for it.

31

Grosjean’s older than Vettel…

32

I have a feeling that first preference is gong to be between Max, Daniel or Sainz.. if it doesn’t work then its Perez or Romain.

33

You think that Ferrari chief Marchionne has already made up his mind that Kimi has to go by end of 2017 no matter how this season pans out for him/them?
Kevin, Romain, Perez and Sainz definitely all have potential !
Ferrari will most probably have made up their shortlist of candidates to pursue by late summer.

34

James – what do you, or F1 insiders, make of the McLaren car this year?

I know Alonso performs at a very high level, but nonetheless, the car has been running in the points for two races in a row despite the Honda PU. Is there a sense that it’s a really good car being held back by Honda then?

Would be interesting to know what the general consenus is!

35

Well, yes, Alonso does drive well, but isn’t it peculiar that in the end phase of the last 2 races immediately after he has been passed by some other cars and looks like dropping out of points, his car immediately develops “a problem”, and Alonso has to retire?

36

I think it’s crying shame that Honda can’t hook it up, with their legacy in F1. I think they’re out of excuses by now – they’ve had long enough.

I’m not a huge McLaren fan but I hope they come good soon and show what the car is capable of.

37

It’s not only Honda who is to blame. Mclaren itself makes a mess of things.. driveshaft, electrical error, etc.. maybe a decent car but a very unreliable team so far.

38

Decent car, but hard to judge with the engine it has

39

Was Alonso really fastest around the corners?!!!

40

Not only that he is a great Team player too 🙂

41

James, I see you have not given a thought writing something about Max Verstappen yet. I wish you can look closer to his career and life, for me the guy is the real deal, the most exciting driver on the grid.

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