The Haas F1 Team go into the second round of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship this weekend on the back of an incredible fifth place finish for Kevin Magnussen, on his return to the sport.
Last weekend was magical for Magnussen, who probably couldn’t have dreamed of not only finishing in the points but also ending the race in the top five on his first race back in the paddock. The Danish driver is still on a high following his incredible Bahrain Grand Prix.
“It was pretty unbelievable – to be top five was crazy. The car felt very good and we were able to push the entire race. We maybe had more degradation than we expected in the first stint but we made up for that in the second and got back on track. The team has done such an amazing job to get us into this position.”
This weekend’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix represents an enormous challenge for Magnussen, who of course has never raced at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit. The track which is the second longest as well as one of the fastest on the calendar, has Magnussen feeling very excited, after being impressed by the track when watching last year’s race.
“From watching on TV last year, it looked like a pretty spectacular track which is super high-speed considering it’s a street circuit. I’m really looking forward to it, I love street circuits and it looks like a challenging one so let’s see. I don’t know it of course, so it will take a few laps to get fully up to grips with it, but I’m looking forward to it.”
With it being Magnussen’s first-time at the venue, the track walk and watching back footage from last season’s race, will be key to the experienced driver’s preparation ahead of the weekend.
“It will be about watching a lot of on-board videos, looking at data to get an understanding of the driving style that is required for the different corners of the track and going through data on the evolution that the track goes through. Also understanding the tarmac, which kerbs are usable is important. Then it’s about doing the track walk and actually seeing it up close and then just getting up to speed with it in practice.”
“It will for sure be easier to run into trouble” – Mick Schumacher
Mick Schumacher goes into this weekend on the back of his best finish to date in Formula 1, the German crossed the line in eleventh place but was agonisingly close to a points finish. Schumacher remains disappointed to have missed out on points at Bahrain, even believing that it was his fault for missing out.
“So close, yet so far. I made the call that I wanted to try and stay out and keep track position, which I now know was the wrong decision, but we’ll be better next time. The first race of the year is normally quite a messy one, as we saw, but we’ve learned from it. It was a bittersweet day as the team collected a lot of points and it was great to see after so many years of problems to be back in a good position.”
The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was a difficult one for the team last season, with Schumacher and former team-mate Nikita Mazepin, both crashing heavily. Schumacher doesn’t think though that the craziness of last year’s race will slow drivers down this weekend.
“The races turn out as they do so I guess it will be hard to predict what is going to happen. I don’t see people being more cautious just because of the nature of it and if anything, actually because of the new cars people will try to go harder on it, especially at the beginning of the year to get more out of it.”
This weekend will be the new cars first-time on a street circuit, Schumacher is intrigued to see how the cars will behave on it and also what damage they will collect if they come too close to one of the many barriers.
“It will be the first time for us to get out on a street circuit, so it will be interesting to see how things develop, how close we can get to the walls and what potential damage there is if you do touch the wall. For example, last year if you did grind the wall a little you would get away with it with a bit of tire just scraped off but in this case the rims are a much more vulnerable target so it will be for sure easier to run into trouble. It will be interesting to see what happens and how drivers will be able to cope with it.”