After finishing “best of the rest”, Kevin Magnussen called his fifth place in qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix “pole position” for the Haas F1 Team.
Magnussen was the only non-Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport or Scuderia Ferrari driver to get within two seconds of Valtteri Bottas‘s pole position time at the Sochi Autodrom. The Dane qualified two-tenths quicker than closest rival Esteban Ocon and over half-a-second ahead of Haas team-mate Romain Grosjean.
Whilst maintaining the fact that he is satisfied with the result, Magnussen said that his best lap “could’ve been better” but for suffering with a bout of wheelspin following a overzealous meeting with the kerbs at Turn 2.
“I’m happy,” said Magnussen. “It’s best of the rest, again – pole position for us.
“It’s a good feeling. It was a good lap. It could’ve been better. The only place I messed up was in Turn 2. I hit the kerb and definitely when you do that, you lose time with wheelspin. I thought from there it would probably be difficult, but I kept it together and did a good rest of the lap.”
Magnussen believes that Aston Martin Red Bull Racing‘s grid penalties for engine component changes on both Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen‘s cars – leaving the pair to only set a time in the first stage of qualifying – will aid Haas’s cause in the race tomorrow.
The 25-year-old expressed his relief in Red Bull’s no-show in Q2 and Q3 helping the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team and the Racing Point Force India F1 Team reach the top ten shootout – denying them the chance to start just outside the top ten on a fresh set of tyres.
“Luckily, it’s not like the Red Bulls qualified into Q3 and then just didn’t run,” Magnussen continued.
“We have more people running the hyper-soft tyre – that’s a bit better for us.
“It would’ve been worse if the Force Indias or both Saubers had started just outside the top-10 with fresh tyres. That would’ve been tricky.”
However, Magnussen is expecting a strong resurgence from the Red Bull duo in the race tomorrow. Even with this, he is still aiming to finish in the higher end of the points paying positions.
“I’m sure the Red Bulls will come back strong.
“It’ll be interesting to see how far they get. There’s a good chance they’ll get back up, but the best of the rest is our target.”