Kevin Magnussen says the Haas F1 Team has made a step forward with its 2019 car as it looks to improve on an impressive 2018 Formula 1 campaign.
Haas managed a maiden top five finish in the Constuctors’ Championship in just its third season in the sport, with Magnussen finishing inside the top 10 of the Drivers’ standings for the first time in his career.
Partnered with a new look by way of title sponsorship from drinks company Rich Energy, Magnussen believes that the VF-19 has shown encouraging signs over the course of winter testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya – despite a number of on-track stoppages.
Early projections that the revised aerodynamic regulations will lead to noticeably slower cars in 2019 have not come to fruition.
“I think we all expected that the cars would be slower, at least to begin with,” said Magnussen.
“We got to Barcelona and saw that everyone was going faster than last year.
So, of course, I felt more grip in the car but, even more importantly, I think balance-wise it wasn’t too different, and if anything, it was stronger in a few areas.
“Yes, we had a few too many issues which stopped us from running but, at the end of the day, that’s what testing is for.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what it can do compared to the other teams.”
Haas showed solid pace in last year’s Australian Grand Prix with Magnussen and team-mate Romain Grosjean qualifying an impressive sixth and seventh on-track, moving up one place each following a grid penalty for Daniel Ricciardo.
Magnussen and Grosjean were on course for top six finishes until two disastrous pitstops in the space of three laps forced both cars into retirement with loose wheels, leaving Haas to pay a punishment fine of €10,000 for unsafe releases.
The Dane remained cautious when making any predictions for next week’s season-opening race of 2019, but said that Haas reaches Melbourne with “a good feeling”.
“You get an idea of where you stand, whether you’re completely off or whether you might have a good chance,” Magnussen added.
“You never completely know where you are until you hit the track in qualifying in Australia.
“Even then, a lot of things can happen in the coming races.
“We’re happy we’re going into the first race with the car that we have.”