Kevin Magnussen feels the Haas F1 Team can be competitive again this weekend around the Baku Street Circuit, although he does not know where they will be compared to their rivals, particularly if they bring special packages for the unique nature of the track.
The Dane has scored points in the past two Grand Prix in Bahrain and China and was on course for a strong result in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix before the team endured their nightmare pit stops for both Magnussen and team-mate Romain Grosjean as they ran inside the top six.
The VF-18 has shown itself to be a well-balanced car in 2018, and Magnussen feels it should again be in contention for the top ten, both in Qualifying and in the race, in this weekend’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
“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.”
Magnussen sees no reason why Haas cannot be the best of the rest behind the leading three teams this season, although he acknowledges the midfield again seems to be wide open, much as it was last season.
“At the moment, I think we are very even with Renault and perhaps a little faster than McLaren, at least in qualifying,” said the Dane. “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, 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.”