Over the weekend at the Hungarian Grand Prix, Kevin Magnussen of Haas placed 19th in qualifying, a stark contrast to his teammate, Nico Hulkenberg, who continued his impressive form by securing the 10th position in Budapest’s one-lap contest. Magnussen attributed his 0.511s lag in the Q1 round, during which both drivers used hard tyres under the Alternative Tyre Allocation trial, to his discomfort in the VF-23.
The Danish driver noted that as Haas‘ vehicle has developed, he has found it increasingly challenging to maintain consistency in low-fuel and new-tyre situations, something he attributes to the car’s handling shifting away from his natural driving style. “I’m struggling to find consistency with this year’s car,” Magnussen admitted, “For some reason, I’m struggling a bit on low fuel, new tyres to extract the maximum out of the car.”
Magnussen further pointed out inconsistencies in his performance. During the FP3 race, he recorded the fastest time in sector one, only to turn out as the slowest in the second sector, a radical shift in performance. He expressed frustration noting, “It’s almost like my usual strength have become my weakness in this car.”
But despite his current difficulties, Magnussen appeared optimistic about his long-run pace, as the only bright spot in an otherwise challenging season fraught with tire management struggles. However, even this concession of advantage seems to be under new scrutiny. Questioned on why his previous strengths appear to disadvantage him, Magnussen identified his inherent driving style, hinged on the car’s limitations, as the probable cause.
“Nico is obviously seeming to extract more out of the car [over] one lap, new tyres. And then on high fuel, it’s different story. So, it’s a bit of a confusing one. But I’ll work on it.” he promises. He further mentioned that the vehicle that had seemed better after testing in March has gradually shifted away from his preferred driving style, creating an increasing problem for him.
Talking about learning from Hulkenberg‘s data, Magnussen noted that copying the German driver’s style might end up yielding subpar results for him, akin to being in a “no-man’s land”. He asserts, “If you change things that are very natural to you, you end up in no-man’s land… the previous year’s [car] has not been a problem. Now suddenly, I find myself in a bit of a pickle.”