Kevin Magnussen heads to the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari in high spirits, with the Haas F1 Team driver confident his VF-22 will be strong around the Imola circuit on what will be his first sprint race weekend.
The Dane has enjoyed a relative strong start to his return to Formula 1 in 2022, with a fifth-place finish in Bahrain being followed by a ninth in Saudi Arabia, although he had a under par Australian Grand Prix last time out, partly down to feeling unwell for parts of the weekend.
But Formula 1 arrives in Europe for the first time this year this weekend with the return of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, with Magnussen feeling the characteristics of the Imola track should suit his car as he bids to return to the top ten.
“Imola is an awesome track but the characteristics and speed-wise – corner speeds and straights – make it a more average track,” said Magnussen. “As it has a bit of everything, and this car is all-round good, I think we should be able to do well there. I’m looking forward to it because it’s an awesome track.
“The cars are lower and they’re also stiffer, so kerb riding is a little harder than it used to be with the old cars. We’ll see, I hope whatever challenges these new cars have we can still be in the competitive range in terms of kerb riding.
“Again, I think our car is all-round very strong so it should be alright.”
Imola marks the first of three sprint race weekends, with a Qualifying Sprint on Saturday before the main race on Sunday, and with regulations now giving points down to eighth rather than to just the top three, Magnussen says it gives drivers more to fight for lower down the order.
“I think it’s good that they’ve added points for finishing eighth and higher because there’s a pay bonus for points so I’m going to go all out, and the racing is going to be great!” he said.
“I think it’s interesting as last year sometimes it was a little less exciting as people were more conservative because there wasn’t as much at stake.
“Now that there are points, I think we’ll see more tough racing, so I’m looking forward to it.”
“Hopefully we’ll be right in there and be able to have a good weekend” – Mick Schumacher
Team-mate Mick Schumacher is still seeking his first points of his Formula 1 career, and he is looking to put that right this weekend at Imola, a track he enjoys driving a lot having raced there plenty of times in his junior career.
The German enjoyed a career best finish of eleventh in the season opening Bahrain Grand Prix but sat out the Saudi Arabia event after a high-speed crash in Qualifying left his team short of spares. He returned to the track in Australia and finished thirteenth at a track that appeared not to suit Haas.
Despite that, Schumacher is hoping the Imola track will allow it to be a better weekend for the whole team, and he is excited to taste the track in the 2022 machinery for the first time this Friday in the sole free practice session before Qualifying.
“I think Imola is always a nice track to go to – I enjoy it a lot,” said Schumacher. “I’ve driven around it quite a bit and I’m really excited to get there with these nice, new cars and hopefully be able to do well.
“It seems like kerb usage in general will be a bit lower compared to last year but I’m sure that drivers and teams will find ways to still be able to take as much kerb, and hopefully we will be too.”
Schumacher hopes to be able to put a whole weekend together sooner rather than later, and he feels that if he achieves this, he should be in contention for points.
“With our car I think it’s actually quite alright, we should be able to manage to put everything together quite soon in the weekend,” Schumacher said. “We have a good idea, we don’t need to two huge changes so hopefully we’ll be right in there and be able to have a good weekend.”