Kevin Magnussen admitted his 2019 campaign had been “very frustrating” at times as Haas’s troublesome VF-19 could often be persuaded to work well over a single lap, but tended to struggle in the races.
But in Bahrain, having qualified just five-thousandths of a second off Max Verstappen fifth-placed Red Bull, Magnussen sank to 13th in the race. It was a sign of things to come.
It took until the end of the season for Haas to understand “which parts of the car are under-performing and not good enough”, and their performance fluctuated in the interim, Magnussen explained.
“I wouldn’t say there’s any a real trend. We were good in Australia. Then there was a few races, then we were good in Barcelona and Monaco. And then we were good in Russia, I can’t remember if there was somewhere else. It’s been very up-and-down, hard to see a trend.”
As with his team mate Romain Grosjean, that made it difficult to assess Magnussen’s performance throughout the season, aside from a few moments which stood out for good or bad reasons.
Qualifying: Lap time
The lower the lines, the better the driver performed
Magnussen fared well against Grosjean in qualifying over the year, with a couple of exceptions. At mid-season, when Haas began running its drivers in different versions of its chassis, Grosjean found a better balance with his older set-up than Magnussen did in the upgraded car.
Substantial crashes for Magnussen in Canada and Japan were two other notable occasions when he came up short.
Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and
Race: Start versus finish
The graph of Magnussen’s starting and finishing positions illustrates the frustrations he experienced throughout 2019, and the repeated difficulty of bringing the VF-19 home anywhere near where it qualified. The most egregious example came in Austria where he recorded both his best starting position of the year, fifth, and worst finishing position, a dismal 19th, which team principal Guenther Steiner memorably described as “negatively amazing”.
“It became very clear in Bahrain that we had a problem, which was really strange because in winter testing and in the first race the car was really good,” said Magnussen.
“Even in Bahrain we qualified sixth or something, up there, then in the race it just completely fell apart. So from there on it was a little bit of panic in the team. We couldn’t really focus on finding the real root of the problem.
“We were looking a lot at tyres and blaming the problem on tyres issues whereas in fact it was a little more simple, I think, just aero issues, unstable aero, the whole platform just not being strong enough and consistent, stable enough.
“It’s a very frustrating problem, because we have able to qualify well but in the race we just have not had any strength. That’s very frustrating as a driver, where you start in a position and then you’re just fighting to try to hang on to your position rather than attacking the guy in front.”
Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and
Race: Share of points
Race: How many times Magnussen finished ahead of every other driver
While Magnussen at least had the honour of claiming the majority of Haas’s points, top 10 finishes were far too seldom for the team. There were occasions where luck went against him, notably in Singapore, but more often than not the team’s inability to master their chassis held it back.
Magnussen saw those problems as a consequence of the team’s relative lack of experience. “We are a very young team,” he pointed out. “It was only our fourth year. Last year  we got fifth in the constructors’ championship. I think that’s pretty impressive. I don’t think many teams have done that in their third year.
“So we’ve got to take some confidence from that as well and just build on the experience that we have had this year and the learning that we have done and then just come back stronger next year.”
Go ad-free for just £1 per month
Race: Reasons for retirements
|Damage (collision with Grosjean)
Quotes: Dieter Rencken
2019 F1 season
- McLaren Racing reports reduced £71 million loss in 2019
- Kvyat: Hockenheim podium last year was “my biggest achievement” so far
- How the FIA’s new encrypted fuel flow meter targets Ferrari’s suspected ‘aliasing’ trick
- “He smashed my office door”: 23 must-see moments from ‘Drive to Survive’ season two
- ‘I should have done a better job. There’s things that I know I can do better’