Kevin Magnussen was left slightly disappointed after Qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix on Saturday, with the Dane feeling he could possibly have found that extra tenth of a second that would have seen him advance to the top ten shootout.
The Haas F1 Team racer ended twelfth overall, just 0.100 seconds behind Alfa Romeo Racing’s Kimi Räikkönen, but that time lost meant all the difference between qualifying inside the top ten and ending up where he did.
With the tow at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza important to get a good lap time, Magnussen was only able to benefit from one for the first half of his last flying lap having ended up behind Red Bull Racing’s Alexander Albon, who was just too quick for him to be able to stay close enough for the whole lap.
“It was about as good as it could be today, but Q3 was only about a tenth away, and you always feel like you could have taken that,” said Magnussen. “I got out behind Albon, who was much quicker than me, so he pulled away and I only got a tow for half a lap – because then he was gone.
“That’s how it is. We got more-or-less everything out of it that we could.”
Magnussen hopes the recent trend of the pace dropping away does not continue this weekend in Italy as it would mean another race without a point, something the team cannot accept if they are to climb up the order in the championship standings.
“We’ve seen before that the car drops in race pace, but we can just hope it doesn’t do that tomorrow,” said Magnussen. “Friday looked a little bit positive, so we hope that’s going to carry into tomorrow and be the same again.
“We’re not far from the points. If we have a decent race car we can go for it.”
Team-mate Romain Grosjean was eliminated in the first segment of Qualifying but was only eight-tenths of a second off the quickest time of Q1, proving just how tight the field is this weekend. He felt he was lacking in top speed compared to Magnussen and he credits that to the time difference between them both and ultimately his elimination from Qualifying.
“Very much disappointed not to make it through to Q2 today,” admitted Grosjean. “The car was actually better than it had been in FP3 and in the corners I was fast.
“Just compared to Kevin (Magnussen) though we’re lacking a lot of top speed, I don’t know why, but it costs you a lot of lap time. My lap was good, I had a bit of traffic through turns four and five, I probably lost a bit of time there, but every other corner I was fast.
“It’s just very disappointing not to have gained more in a straight line, I was using the slipstream as much as I could. We need to look into everything.”
Team Principal Guenther Steiner said it was no real surprise to see his drivers qualify where they did, although they will both move up the order thanks to grid penalties for others. Having set the car up more for the race than for Qualifying, Steiner hopes this philosophy pays off and they can move forward in the race and fight for points.
“It’s not a big surprise that we qualified where we did after the earlier free practice sessions,” said Steiner. “We tried to set the car up so that in the race, we can race. Hopefully we can get that one done.
“Starting twelfth and fourteenth is not fantastic, but it doesn’t mean that we’re out of the points in the race. We’ll focus on it and hopefully we can get it done.”