Kevin Magnussen admitted it was his decision to stay on the soft Pirelli tyre for as long as he did during Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix, and it was only when he finally made the switch to the medium compound did his car come alive.
The Haas F1 Team racer ran as high as seventh in the early laps as he avoided the first corner incidents that hindered and delayed a number of his rivals, but it soon became clear that the Dane was unable to match the pace of team-mate Romain Grosjean, who was running ahead of him in sixth.
It was not long before he was holding up a queue of drivers, and soon he found himself outside the points and down in fifteenth after they were all able to pass the Dane, the majority of them making the move down the Kemmel Straight and into Les Combes.
Magnussen made the gamble to wait until lap twenty-six to make his one and only pit stop and immediately felt more comfortable behind the wheel of his VF-19, but he had given himself too much to do to fight back into the points, ultimately coming home in twelfth, passing both team-mate Grosjean and Renault F1 Team racer Daniel Ricciardo over the closing laps.
“The first stint on the C3 tyres felt terrible, there was absolutely no grip and we were just falling down and getting overtaken all the time,” said Magnussen. “I actually made the wrong call to stay out a bit longer on that tyre, that was so bad because I felt it was hopeless, so we might as well just wait for a safety car or something like that.
“I felt that was my only chance to come back. Then when we eventually did pit for the C2 yellow tyre, the car just came alive and completely back to normal and felt very good again. It’s so unpredictable and you don’t know what to expect.”