By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
Kevin Magnussen spared no expense in his belief that the Haas F1 Team are right in the thick of the midfield battle with the likes of Renault and McLaren.
The 25-year-old Dane has scored 11 points through the opening three races, which sits him 10th in the Formula One World Driver’s Championship. The flipside is that he is the only driver to provide points for the American team, with Romain Grosjean yet to finish in the top 10.
As it stands heading into Baku for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after this off weekend, Haas sit seventh in the constructor’s battle, 17 points behind rival McLaren.
“At the moment, I think we are very even with Renault and perhaps a little faster than McLaren, at least in qualifying,” said Magnussen, via a team release.
“The rest of the midfield, perhaps, seems a little more inconsistent, but they can definitely be up there with the rest of us on occasions. Renault is probably the strongest competitor in the midfield, but I think we have a car that can easily match them, and when we do well, beat them also. That should be our aim at the moment – to be fighting those guys. Obviously, we want to improve on last year’s result, which was eighth (in the constructor’s standings), and I think that’s a feasible target.
“We’re doing well at the moment, in terms of performance, but if we find ourselves in a good position halfway through the season, then maybe we have to reset our goals.”
No doubt the biggest gut-punch came at the season opening Australian Grand Prix, where both drivers were running amongst the top five before suffering a heartbreaking double retirement halfway through. However, Magnussen rebounded to provide a fifth-place finish in Bahrain before snagging a 10th-place result in China, which he attributed to the new VF-18.
“The main thing is that we have a good car, a better car this year,” said Magnussen. “I also think it makes a big difference that I’m with the same team for a second year, having that continuity. You have a totally different preparation and some experience to rely on.”
The Baku City Circuit has been notorious for high fuel consumption with high track temps impacting tire degradation and affecting the balance of the car, but the 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 Series champion isn’t concerned.
“Our car balance should be fine in Baku,” said Magnussen. “It’s true that we do have a very good car this year – it’s very well balanced. But it’s going to be very difficult to predict how we’re going to be in Baku, as we don’t know what other people are going to bring in terms of special packages for that circuit.
“We’re going to try and get the most out of the car, but it’s going to be interesting to see what other people do.”