Kevin Magnussen highlights improvements in the quality of the Haas VF-18 as one of the reasons for the team’s strong form this season.
Haas finished eighth in each of its first two seasons in Formula 1 but currently sits fifth, eight points behind fourth-placed Renault. After a strong start last year, Haas scored just four points in the final four races of the season, but in 2018 has maintained a higher competitive level and Magnussen sees clear reasons for the car remaining quick throughout the year.
“I think there are a couple of things that stand out this year,” Magnussen said. “One of them is, obviously, just experience. The team has been growing every year. Everyone is using their experience better and better, while at the same time, gaining more experience.
“I also think the quality of our car, in terms of the actual build of our car, is much better. We’re better able to put the car on track that we intended to, and not have little errors or faults in production of the car. That quality is a lot better this year, and I think that contributes as well to the performance.
“Our tire knowledge has improved a lot. In Formula 1, Pirelli tires are very tricky, and our management and understanding has improved a lot this year. I would say those are the main things regarding our growth this year.”
Magnussen’s teammate Romain Grosjean believes those improvements have been made more obvious by Haas not realizing its full potential during the 2017 season.
“We’ve made a good step this year,” Grosjean said. “I think 2017 was maybe the year where we underperformed, but in 2018 we’ve come back to the route being planned out since the start of the team. The team has been growing a lot and improving in every single area. There’s still room for improvement, which is amazing to know and to see.”
While Haas appears to have the measure of Renault at this stage of the season, team principal Guenther Steiner says he is not putting pressure on the team to overturn the eight-point deficit immediately.
“I don’t want to catch them quickly; as long as we catch them after Abu Dhabi I am fine,” Steiner said. “Perfectly fine with that one. I am in no hurry.
“It is still difficult. I know we have four races to go but they were not very strong (in Japan) and they were luckier than us scoring a point, but their performance and pace wasn’t very good. That doesn’t mean that they will be in Austin or Mexico.
“So we need to keep our guards up and do a good job. We are not there yet and we will for sure fight but there is still a long way to go, four races, which is 20% of the championship.”