Kevin Magnussen expects a strong performance from the Haas F1 Team at the Singapore Grand Prix, after acknowledging the performance gains made by the team regarding issues they faced on slower circuits at the start of the season.
Haas struggled at Monaco, failing to pick up any points, but showed good pace in Hungary just before the summer break. Magnussen registered a seventh place finish at the Hungaroring, whilst team-mate Romain Grosjean rounded out the top ten.
The American entity are keen to continue their upwards trend at the demanding Marina Bay Street Circuit after a demoralising post-Italian Grand Prix period. The team saw Grosjean’s excellent sixth-place taken away for irregularities regarding their floor, after their rivals for fourth place in the Constructors’ Championship, the Renault Sport Formula 1 Team, lodged an appeal post-race.
Looking at the overall picture in 2018, Magnussen praised Haas’ turnaround, after a dismal start to the 2018 season and a stop-start 2017. As a result, he stands eighth in the Drivers’ Championship and looks on course to break the top ten for the first time in his Formula 1 career.
“I think the team has done an amazing job to get the consistency that we’ve had this year compared to last year where we had a strong car at a few races, but not a lot of consistency,” he said. “For a team in its third year, I think it’s pretty impressive to make such quick progress.”
Grosjean’s exclusion and Magnussen’s lack of performance at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza just over a week ago saw Haas immediately yield their points advantage on Renault, but the Dane believes that his former employers will continue to face a tough battle.
“We’re doing everything we can to get the results and to deliver as well as we can,” he added.
“I think we’ve done a good job to be that close to Renault in the championship for fourth, especially when you consider the bad luck and some of the problems we’ve had at a few races this year. It shows that we’ve got a really good car and that there’s potential for more.
“My expectations are that we can fight at the front of the midfield and that we can take the fight to Renault and fight for best of the rest like we’ve done many times this year.”
The 25-year-old gave a glimpse on the changes made to the VF18 to boost performance on more technical circuits, focussing on maximising the existing strengths of the package.
“We were expecting the car to be less strong at the small, twisty, slower tracks,” Magnussen continued. “We had some bad races in Monaco and Canada.
“It seems like we worked out some of the issues and improved the situation on those kinds of tracks. In Hungary, we had a good performance. We’ll see in Singapore. I think we should be able to fight at the top of the midfield and fight for best of the rest.
“It’s just a combination of many things, as it’s a balance between many different things in a car that creates performance. We’ve worked on the things we felt were performing well – tyres, balance, setup, all those things – and as a whole, we’ve improved the package on slower tracks.”
In his first visit to Singapore in 2014, Magnussen suffered with dehydration and burns – due to an overheating water bottle – emphasising the physical challenge that the longest race of the year poses. Despite taking place at night, temperatures remain in the mid-20C range and are partnered with over 80% humidity on average.
An old-school racer at heart, Magnussen relishes the unforgiving nature of the circuit – lined with sparse run-off areas, concrete walls and Tecpro barriers.
“The biggest challenge is probably physically, as it’s very hot and the race is extremely long. It always goes close to the two-hour limit.
“Physically, it’s a tough track, mentally as well. You don’t get a lot of rest on the track, and there are 23 corners, so you’re always working. There’s not a lot of time to relax over a lap in Singapore. If you miss your braking or get on the power a bit too early, there’s a wall and you’ll be likely to hit it.
“This makes the consequences a bit bigger for any mistake, which is cool.”