Kevin Magnussen admitted he was surprised everyone around him went for the soft Pirelli tyre for the Sprint race at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari on Saturday, with the Dane one of only three drivers to use the medium compound.
The Haas F1 Team driver started the race from fourth on the grid, the highest grid position ever for the American team, but he found the soft-tyre shod drivers difficult to withstand, and he slid down the order during the twenty-one-lap race at Imola.
Nevertheless, Magnussen was pleased to bring home a point for eighth place in the Sprint race, and it gives the team a good platform to work with for Sunday’s main race, where points again will be the target.
“We were super surprised to see everyone on softs, that’s not what we wanted to see, but we judged that the softs would degrade too quickly so we went for the mediums,” said Magnussen.
“Everyone just seemed to pass me at the beginning of the race and then it kind of reset so we were on the same pace, at least with [Daniel] Ricciardo and [Fernando] Alonso.
“It’s nice to get a point today and P8 – we would normally be happy with P8 in qualifying – so let’s look at the positives. We’re starting in the top ten tomorrow for the main race and hopefully we’ll be able to score some more points.”
“I think for us, we definitely chose the right tyre” – Mick Schumacher
Team-mate Mick Schumacher also went with the medium tyre on Saturday, but for him it was a positive as he was able to move up from twelfth on the grid to finish tenth.
The German’s wait for a first points finish continues but he will be starting inside the top ten on Sunday, and he was assisted by jumping ahead of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team’s George Russell at the start.
Schumacher then caught and passed his good friend Sebastian Vettel to run inside the top ten, and he was not far away from the battle for the final point between Magnussen and Fernando Alonso when the chequered flag fell.
“I think for us, we definitely chose the right tyre,” said Schumacher. “We had some good battles but unfortunately still not quite in the points, so hopefully for tomorrow we will be in a position to do that.
“Obviously fighting with a lot of cars around us, one of them being Seb (Vettel) which was a great fight, was good fun. We’ll have to wait to see how it is with higher fuel but everything we’ve learned from this morning was promising.”