Kevin Magnussen believes he secured the Haas equivalent of pole position by qualifying in seventh place for tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix.
With the top three teams of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull covered by roughly 0.6s, Magnussen was best of the rest but some 1.5s adrift of Lewis Hamilton’s pole position time. The midfield remains extremely competitive as just 0.159s separated Magnussen from teammate Romain Grosjean in tenth, and the Dane says that makes his achievement even greater.
“It was a good day for us,” Magnussen said. “That’s pole position for us. We don’t really feel like we could have done any better. Unless you are in a Ferrari, Mercedes or Red Bull then this is pole position.
“I don’t think we can fight the Red Bulls. I really feel like I’m on pole position because I feel like I’m not attacking anyone. Of course I’ll take whatever is there if I get an opportunity but I’m not expecting to be fighting anyone in front. So it’s really a race of trying to maximize your own race and just perform your own race.”
Asked if there is any advantage in letting the two Red Bulls starting ahead of him pull away at the start, Magnussen replied: “I don’t have a choice!
“They will go no matter what. If I can get out of lap one in seventh then honestly it’s like pole position and then it’s going to be like leading my race of the midfield. You will see the guys in front, they will just go and you are going to have free air. So whoever is in seventh is going to be in a good position tomorrow, I think.”
With Fernando Alonso starting alongside the lead Haas as the only driver in the top 10 on the supersoft compound tire, Magnussen says it is another weakness that plays into his hands.
“Even though the temperatures came down I still did my fastest lap in qualifying on a soft. It’s clearly not great to be starting on a supersoft and I don’t think anybody will be tomorrow except for the ones that have to, because it’s not faster. There’s no upside to being on a supersoft. It wears out faster and it’s slower.
“In my position the most important lap of the race will be Lap 1. I don’t think I have that much to win; I have a lot to lose.
“I’m in a good position, I think. I’ve got someone who is going to really struggle to do a one-stop strategy. If he gets in front then basically you can afford to wait for him to pit and then you just have to do a clean race.”
– Chris Medland