Damage limitation the target in Mexico GP for Haas F1 team

by James Eagles
Kevin Magnussen - Formula 1 - 2019 Mexico GP

Kevin Magnussen and Guenther Steiner said that the Haas F1 Team‘s lowly qualifying positions came as little surprise on Saturday at the Mexico Grand Prix.

Magnussen set the seventeenth fastest time at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, one place ahead of team-mate Romain Grosjean, as both cars were eliminated in Qualifying 1 for the first time this season.

Magnussen admitted that the team had predicted a difficult Saturday afternoon, with the thinner air of Mexico City demanding a higher downforce setup despite some of the highest top speeds of the season.

The Dane said that he struggled with a total lack of car balance on his fast runs, leaving plenty of work to do in the race .

“We had kind of predicted this, which doesn’t make it good, but it’s what we expected,” said Magnussen. “We had oversteer, understeer, a bit of everything.

“We’re competitive people, you always go into each session to try your best, but it wasn’t to be today.

“We’ll just try and get out of it what we can tomorrow. We’ll try and be in the best position to take whatever comes our way.”

Grosjean was also left bemused by the instability of the VF-19 after previously holding hopes of an improvement from Friday’s performance.

The Frenchman suffered a spin in the embryonic stage of Q1 at the first corner, appearing to lock his rear brakes into the tight right-hander, and expressed his confusion in the car’s inconsistency between Saturday morning’s Free Practice 3 and qualifying two hours’ later.

Romain Grosjean - Formula 1 - 2019 Mexico GP
Credit: Haas F1 Team

“Last night we made a fair bit of change to the car, and in Practice 3 the car felt really good in terms of rear-end, so we were lacking front-end,” Grosjean added.

“I thought if we could balance the front-end and keep that rear-end, we’re going to make it to Q2.

“I was confident of one lap pace, I thought we can do this. We rebalanced everything, we got into qualifying, and I got into Turn 1 and I spun – just on braking.

“The changes we’ve got to do from one session to another is huge, it’s not something you normally do.

“We have to try to understand everything, we haven’t quite got on top of it. Hopefully we can find something.”

Team principal Steiner echoed Magnussen’s mentality, stating that Haas is simply lacking the downforce required to be competitive this weekend.

Steiner also said that the final four races of the 2019 season will be a case of damage limitation and ensuring that the flaws of the VF-19 are not carried into the ’20 package.

“No big surprise to me about this qualifying performance, I saw it coming, but that still doesn’t make it right,” said Steiner.

“At this level of altitude, we just don’t carry enough downforce to let us do a decent run – nothing new.

“We need to work on our aerodynamics and just try to limit the damage this year, and not carry this performance into next year.

“Everybody’s working hard on getting it better for next year. That’s the only thing we can and have to do.””

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