Kevin Magnussen, Romain Grosjean, Haas, Circuit de Catalunya, 2019

Neither Haas driver is winning as team’s struggle goes on

2019 team mate battles: Grosjean vs Magnussen

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Is either Haas driver really ‘winning’ at the moment? It’s been a confusing, disappointing season for the team so far.

After pre-season testing it seemed Haas would easily lead the midfield fight. The opening round in Australia appeared to bear that out as Kevin Magnussen came home ‘best of the rest’ behind the top three teams (Romain Grosjean’s progress was halted by a pit stop error, just like last year).

But the team quickly ran into trouble. Although Magnussen put his car sixth on the grid in Bahrain he slumped to 13th in the race, mystified by his inability to get the tyres into the correct operating window. That set the tone of the following races.

As the season wore on the team also began to question the direction it had gone in car development. An earlier specification of the car was brought back for Romain Grosjean, who declared himself much happier with it.

But even this seems not to have given a clear answer about where the team had gone wrong. Magnussen, still driving the updated car, has periodically been able to unlock greater performance from it.

Comparing the performances of their two drivers under these circumstances is tricky, particularly as they’ve had different hardware for the last three races (since reverting to the old car, Grosjean has out-qualified Magnussen every time). While Magnussen has claimed most of the points, Grosjean has usually lead the way home when both cars have finished.

One point is obvious, however: They need to stop hitting each other.

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The two Haas cars have made contact on three occasions so far this year. The first time, in Spain, Magnussen caught his team mate by surprise at a restart and passed him. Grosjean should have been able to avoid the contact.

The two subsequent incidents owed more to Magnussen’s characteristically robust approach. At Silverstone he clung to the outside of his team mate on lap one, making contact pretty much inevitable, and though it was a surprise such light contact forced both out it is always a possibility when open-wheel cars collide.

Romain Grosjean, Haas, Hungaroring, 2019
Grosjean has been happier since the old car came back
Amazingly they tangled again in Germany, this time while Grosjean was passing Magnussen, and the latter veered well off the racing line as he tried to hold his team mate back. Fortunately no harm was done and they went on to take the team’s biggest points haul of the year so far.

Haas have told the pair to avoid contact with each other and trust in the team to sort out disputes over position from the pit wall. This appears to have fallen on deaf ears, however. Both have committed the kind of moves on each other which would be considered hard racing between drivers of rival teams, but recklessness when it involves team mates.

Magnussen, however, insists the criticism has been overblown, telling journalists: “In the heat of the moment we’re blaming each other on the radio and stuff like that, but what people don’t see is that we get together between the races and talk it through and try to be constructive and move on in a constructive way. Apart from those incidents on track, I feel that we have a pretty good working relationship.”

The incidents have been “blown out of proportion a little bit”, Magnussen added. “I know you guys love a bit of a conflict and stuff like that, but it isn’t as bad as it looks.”

Having begun the year with the fourth-fastest car Haas go into the summer break ninth in the championship, albeit 17 points away from fifth place. A respectable result can still be salvaged, but only if they start performing at the level they’re capable of.

While their car problems are mostly to blame for Haa’s points deficit, their driver trouble has been an added aggravation. Until they can put that behind them and sort out their car, neither driver can claim to be ‘winning’ this one.

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Quotes: Dieter Rencken

Romain Grosjean vs Kevin Magnussen: Key stats

Romain Grosjean vs Kevin Magnussen: Who finished ahead at each round

Romain GrosjeanQ
Kevin MagnussenQ

Romain Grosjean vs Kevin Magnussen: Qualifying gap

Times based on the last qualifying round at each race weekend in which both drivers set a time

2019 F1 season

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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30 comments on “Neither Haas driver is winning as team’s struggle goes on”

  1. I kinda figure Haas’s performance is in some sense tied to Ferrari’s – like Ferrari have a good car, so do Haas. But Ferrari this year isn’t so good and so Haas are adrift at sea and don’t know how to fix it. Perhaps I’ve misunderstood their relationship but I’d say a large chunk of their struggle is down to the method they exist in F1.

    As for drivers, I think Magnussen’s generally looked a little better than Grosjean but there’s not much in it. On a good day Grosjean’s better than most of the midfield but he’s so rarely in that mode and so prone to making mistakes he almost never realises that potential. Magnussen’s driving is so brutally uncompromising I think he’s thrown away points because sometimes he just doesn’t know when to let it go. Both of them then refuse to yield to each other and this is why they hit each other.

    If Haas are looking for a change I think it’s Grosjean’s head on the block but I don’t think their problem is drivers at all, it’s their inability to understand their car and maximise its operational window. Whether that’s their business model or their inexperience is a different question.

    1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
      16th August 2019, 12:41

      As I understand it Magnussen is under contract for next year, so If one was to get the axe Grosjean definitely seems like the candidate.

      Its hard to see where his replacement would come from though.
      I thought Perez seemed like a good fit, but he’s been making a lot of noises about committing to Racing Point.
      Third driver Fittipaldi isn’t ready (does he even have the points?)
      Mick Schumacher needs a lot more time in F2.
      I don’t think Alexander Rossi would swap his Indy drive for anything less than a big 3 seat.
      Nyck De Vries maybe? Pascal Wehrlein? Stoffel Vandoorne?

      Maybe I’m forgetting someone. As you say though, on his day though Grosjean is a class act, there’s a great drive in their somewhere. I also think he earned a lot of points by identifying the car problem early this year.
      Had they taken his advice in Barcelona they might not be in the mess they are in.

      As it stands at the moment I would wager its more likely than not that we will see both these drivers back at Haas next year. Famous last words during silly season.

      1. @fullcoursecaution

        Third driver Fittipaldi isn’t ready (does he even have the points?)


      2. @fullcoursecaution Ocon maybe. Bottas or Hulkenberg could also become an option if either one of them were to be left out without a drive at Mercedes or Renault respectively.

      3. @fullcoursecaution, I believe that the only series which Pietro Fittipaldi has competed in which might have contributed points would have been the 2017 World Series Formula V8 3.5 championship (formerly known as the Formula Renault 3.5L Championship).

        That series did just about meet the minimum qualifying criteria, and certainly in 2018 the FIA were still awarding superlicence points for that series, with the winner of that championship getting 20 superlicence points. I think that the FIA are still awarding superlicence points for that series for 2019, given it is still within that 3 year period, so that would give him some points – still a long way off being eligible for a full superlicence though.

        1. Jose Lopes da Silva
          16th August 2019, 23:29

          de Vries, why not? The F2 championship leader shouldn’t be always considered?

          1. It depends on the circumstances in which that driver wins their championship, because there have been several drivers who won either Formula 2, or its predecessor GP2, and yet were overlooked by Formula 1.

            It also has to be said that quite a few GP2 champions were mocked for their performances in Formula 1 once they got there – we saw the (somewhat exaggerated) jokes about Maldonado (2010 GP2 champion), many felt Jolyon Palmer (2014 champion) lacked the pace to be in F1, Stoffel Vandoorne (2015 champion) failed to prosper at McLaren and Pierre Gasly (2016 champion) is being rather hastily dumped back into Toro Rosso after failing to impress at Red Bull.

            Right now, we’re also talking about the potential for yet another champion – Grosjean, who won the 2011 GP2 title – to be dumped out of Formula 1, and there has been some speculation over whether Nico Hulkenberg (2009 champion) might be replaced next year.

            In two cases, championship winning drivers – Davide Valsecchi, who won in 2012, and Fabio Leimer, who won in 2013 – were both only ever offered a test driver seat, with neither driver ever appearing in Formula 1 again after those perfunctory appearances for back of the grid teams.

            In fact, very few of the winners of the GP2 championship have gone on to any real success in F1 – only three drivers (Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton and Pastor Maldonado) have even won a race in Formula 1 after winning the GP2 championship, and only two of them – Rosberg and Hamilton – went on to win a WDC.

            I have seen a few question whether de Vries’s success in Formula 2 this season is necessarily a reflection of his potential, or whether it is perhaps more down to the fact that he’s just stuck around in the series for a few years now and, this season, the field is mostly being dominated by those who have stuck around in the sport for a few years.

            The highest placed rookie is Guanyu Zhou, who is down in 6th place, with most of those above him being into at least their third season in the sport now. The feeling is perhaps that de Vries’s success is perhaps more a reflection of the weakness of the current Formula 2 field, given that quite a few drivers that were in the sport have now moved on.

  2. Without delving into details, the points share is so misleading compared to which teammate finished ahead. It is a race after all, and the driver that beats his teammate to the flag in the race should be THE indicator of performance & driver/car harmony.

    But when the stakes are high and a driver can pick up a lot of points in a high stress situation, that’s also a notable achievement. Maybe it was lucky or everything clicked for the driver, but it is hard to ignore.

    Grosjean just about mopped the floor with Magnussen in the “finished ahead” category, yet has less than half the points of Magnussen. Incredible.

    1. @rpiian
      The thing is, their car seems to be so unpredictable in the races that even the “finished ahead” category tells us very little about their respective performances. There’s a significant element of chaos affecting their tyres’ race performance, punishing them with varying degrees of sudden lack of grip. Like Grosjean said a few races ago, in Q1 his car was perfect, and he was looking forward to taking the fight to Red Bull. And then in Q2 the very same car with the very same setup and the very same compound of tyres suddenly feels like it’s driving in the wet. And that’s just the behaviour over a single lap.
      I’m not a fan of Magnussen’s and rather convinced that Grosjean is indeed the quicker driver at the end of the day, but just like the share of points doesn’t do Grosjean justice, the “finished ahead” category isn’t a faithful representation of Magnussen’s performance, either.

      1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
        16th August 2019, 14:34

        Thanks nase.
        Wish there was somewhere to check the live superlicence points online.
        It seems like a resource teams, drivers and fans would all like to access, and there must be a spreadsheet in the FIA somewhere holding all the records, shame it isn’t publicly available.
        @keithcollantine you published this a while back, how did you wrangle it?
        The 2018 points appeared elsewhere online last year, maybe they release it once a year or something?

        1. Pat Ruadh (@fullcoursecaution)
          16th August 2019, 14:37

          Meant in response to nase’s comment further down

    2. Another interesting point is the development going on at McLaren. It feels they are establishing themselves at the head of the midfield and other teams might be fighting for positions 9 and 10 + leftovers from incident/issues up front.
      That means it might be too late for haas to catch up with teams ahead even if they are quite close in the table.

    3. the problem with that is K-Mag was ahead on most of the occasions Grosjean retired and those aren’t taken into account. It is a bit misleading

      1. @johnmilk

        K-Mag was ahead on most of the occasions Grosjean retired and those aren’t taken into account

        Hm… Yes and no.
        There were 6 races that weren’t counted in this category.
        – Magnussen was ahead 4 times (Australia, Bahrain, Azerbaijan, Hungary)
        – Grosjean was ahead 2 times (France, Britain)
        If you simply add those races to the equation, Grosjean still comes out ahead 7 – 5.
        But if you look a bit more closely at how those races went, you’ll realise they don’t quite fit in a binary grid with a total at the end. Take Australia, where they were actually very closely matched in the race, with Grosjean actually looking faster than Magnussen, until a botched pit stop ruined his race in two stages. Or Bahrain, where Grosjean was Stroll’d on the first lap. Britain, where they collided after the start and were limping around the track at a pace that made Williams look competitive in comparison. Heck, the races where both of them saw the chequered flag sometimes look even worse than that, they’re mostly characterised by wild swings of the pendulum that dictates how quickly they drop back uncontrollably.
        This time, I wouldn’t blame the category for being inherently flawed. The problem is with Haas.

  3. Does anyone know if Pietro Fittipaldi has enough points on his superlicence to get a seat in F1? I can’t find it anywhere..
    If so I hope he gets a seat at Haas, seems like a nice guy

    1. @jesperfey13
      He stands at 20 points, all from his 2017 World Series Formula V8 3.5 title. Other than that, nothing of value. He could’ve theoretically reached the 40 points threshold by winning this year’s DTM title, but with just 14 championship points to his name, he’s already out of contention with 6 races to go, and will most likely not collect any Superlicense points.
      To make matters worse, the 20 points I mentioned above will expire at the end of next year. Barring a miracle, he will never drive a race in F1.

    2. He doesn’t, i’m not sure the exact amount but he needs a few points (4 or 5 i guess) this season. Main problem for him is that next season he will discard the points he got from Winning the Formula V8(old Formula Renault 3.5) in 2017.

      He might get the necessary points by participating in the friday practices sessions but i think that is only valid for next season and not the current one.

  4. They should be in the market for new drivers. Maybe not even superstars or young promises. Just two different guys who are reliable for once. Haas needs a driver like Perez. He’d be ideal to push the team forward.

  5. Grosjean hasn’t quite made the impact he wanted to in F1. When Steiner said he wanted to “see both drivers up there every race”, he didn’t mean the Steward’s Office. :-)

    1. Actually, this is pretty much the only impact he didn’t make.

      I’ll see myself out now

  6. I’m not a huge fan of the qualifying gap graph – it’s an important metric but it should be represented in % of lap time, rather than seconds, because the lap times are all of different lengths. you can’t compare a 0.5 second gap at austria to a 0.5 second gap at azerbaijan – it’s meaningless. the line graph is also a bit meaningless because there is not necessarily any trend relationship between the races – a simple bar would be better. additionally, you should only include valid head-to-heads i.e. times set in the same session (it’s not clear whether you’ve done this or not).

  7. Neither was ever quick or competent in any way.

    1. Compared to what? All of Hulk’s podiums?

  8. Being unable to understand the car comes with the territory when so much of it comes from somewhere else. Other teams with fewer resources end up getting the better results because they fully understand the hardware they’re dealing with.

    As for the drivers, both are unreliable. There’s more than 2 better guys on the sidelines waiting for an opportunity.

  9. Grosjean seems like a guy who has something to bring to a team, just not as a driver. He’d probably make a very, very good test driver if such a thing could still meaningfully exist.

    I don’t think it’s a good thing for a team to change BOTH drivers, but I’d probably make an exception for this one.
    Kvyat – Vandoorne for next season.

    1. Both of the current drivers have shown FAR more in Formula 1 than Vandoorne ever did.

      1. You seem to forget something. At the end of his first full year, Stoffel was quite (too?) close to Alonso, and occasionally outperforming Fernando. His second year was a complete disaster, probably as a result of his performance a few months before. There are several cases where Vandoorne was nearly sabotaged by his own team in not getting the right updates or the right strategy. Please consider some facts from time to time.

  10. John P Wiederecht
    17th August 2019, 7:15

    I’m quite sure Grosjean has more “raw speed”(look at 2012-13). The problem is, he needs to have the perfect set of conditions to harness his full potential. Meanwhile, Magnussen’s peak is lower but he’s much more versatile. This situation leads to them being roughly equal on pace over a season. However, the problem shows up in the fact that they’re both prone to hitting things( especially teammates, apparently). Haas went from being SUPER impressive last year, to embarrassingly confused chaos this year. All while still having a car that can still be 4th quickest when it’s working at its best. Overall, it’s just an incredibly strange situation.

  11. Why is this site unable to scale properly on Android devices?

  12. So many fallouts at this team.

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