Kevin Magnussen, even though being an accomplished driver, has battled to optimize the performance of his Haas vehicle, also driven by Nico Hulkenberg. The Haas team, which is American-based, has gone through a variety of highs and lows throughout their racing journey.
Magnussen attributes one of the prime hindrances to his performance to the way the VF-23 handles the entry and progression throughout the curves. Popularly known as a “U-man”, Magnussen has a proclivity for the U-style turn approach. It proposes a gentler and consistent line throughout a corner, which is beneficial in upholding a higher minimum rate during turns.
In order to execute this technique in an appropriate manner, the machine needs to tackle the transition from deceleration while approaching to the turn in. The current Haas model somewhat underperforms in this aspect losing its equilibrium when required to exercise braking and rotational forces simultaneously. The model works more effectively with a V-style apex approach, where the driver holds the brakes in a straighter line, slows down the vehicle, makes a steeper turn in before straightening and accelerating out.
Magnussen acknowledges this characteristic and has been putting efforts to address this in recent matchups. He opined, “You can’t really combine Gs so much with these cars. I think also a big part of it is the tyres. They don’t allow you to combine G, so you can’t do a lot of rotation and braking at the same time.”
He emphasizes that the change from a U-style to a V-style driving technique isn’t an overnight process and likens it to a golfer having to subtly adjust his wrist positioning at a particular swing phase: “It takes 10,000 hours before you’ve done it, because it’s really something in our central nervous system, and being done very automatically.”
Magnussen doesn’t insist on transforming himself entirely to become a V-style driver. Instead, he finds it more suitable to modify the Haas vehicle to adjust more to his driving style. “My style has been working for many years, and I also think I am a driver who can drive many different cars. I’ve driven sportscars, IndyCars, F1, and it’s always been easy for me to adapt”, Magnussen observed.
The restriction of the car to accommodate the U-style approach was confirmed by Simone Resta, the technical director of Haas. Even though the car incorporates a considerable amount of downforce, the more the driver pushes the vehicle, the steeper it becomes to grasp the downforce. This problem was also confronted by Lando Norris of McLaren with his MCL60 vehicle earlier this year. As per Magnussen, rectifying this in simulation doesn’t rectify the issue. He believes that working on the track brings out better results and is hopeful that the desired change will transpire soon.