(L to R): Kevin Magnussen, Nico Hulkenberg, Haas, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2023

Magnussen has a fight on his hands against new team mate

2023 F1 team mate battles

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The notorious run-in between Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg at the 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix led some to expect fireworks between Haas’ latest driver pairing.

So far, nothing like that has materialised. Indeed, Hulkenberg must be relieved not only to have the opportunity to resume his Formula 1 career four years after it seemingly ended, but against a driver he appears to have the measure of so far.

It’s easy to forget neither of these drivers started an F1 race during 2021, the pair’s careers seemingly over. Magnussen’s return came thanks to Nikita Mazepin’s ejection from Haas, and once he showed Mick Schumacher the way the door swung open for Hulkenberg to join him.

But from the off Magnussen has struggled to extract the best from the VF-23 over a single lap. That’s a problem, because the car’s only strength appears to be its qualifying pace.

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2023
Hulkenberg has taken most of Haas’ points so far
Hulkenberg has consistently achieved better grid positions than his team mate. The Haas chews its tyres in races, so they tend towards similar finishing positions. However Hulkenberg was able to claim sixth place in the sprint race at the Austrian Grand Prix after qualifying a remarkable fourth.

Kevin Magnussen delivered their best qualifying position for a grand prix in Miami and converted it into 10th place. This was very much against the run of play, but was a reminder he hasn’t lost his touch.

Magnussen freely admits he has found it hard to understand why he hasn’t been able to make his car work as well in qualifying as his team mate can. However Haas have often used Magnussen’s car to assess set-up changes on Fridays, only to revert to Hulkenberg’s set-up for qualifying, which hasn’t helped matters for the occupant of number 20.

Reliability has been a particular problem for Haas as well. This compromised Hulkenberg’s weekend at Spa, halted him in Austria where he qualified eighth, and ruined Magnussen’s British Grand Prix.

Last year, when Haas was preparing to drop Schumacher, team principal Guenther Steiner said he felt Magnussen needed a stronger team mate to motivate him to keep delivering his best. It seems that concern was well-founded, and as Steiner has lavished praise on Hulkenberg’s one-lap pace, Magnussen will go into the second half of the season in no doubt over where he must improve.

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Unrepresentative comparisons omitted. Negative value: Magnussen was faster; Positive value: Hulkenberg was faster

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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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15 comments on “Magnussen has a fight on his hands against new team mate”

  1. I really like both K-Mag and Hulk as drivers and personalities but I do feel they have had their chances in F1. As much as I still would like to see them shine and have some great moments in F1 – I fear and feel the momentum has gone. Not just for K-Mag and Hulk but also for Haas. Maybe a new young talent can inspire and drive the team forward and / or in a new fresh direction. Maybe someone like Drugovich or wouldn’t it be great if Newgarden would get a chance.

    1. Putting any inexperienced drivers in the Haas and they would probably be completely lost @streydt. This team lacks a the structure (and will?) to support a rookie to learn and adapt to F1.

      1. Indeed, they already ruined mick schumacher, who is just fine for f1, since they don’t give young drivers the time to develop they might as well stick to established drivers.

    2. @streydt i really don’t get why all the fans are pushing for Haas to get other young and inexperienced drivers. That’s a recipe for disaster both for Haas and said young inexperienced drivers.

      What Haas need are experienced drivers who have had success in the sport. I like both Hulkenberg and Magnussen but they haven’t won any races and share a single podium between them in their careers. Haas need multiple race winners or maybe a world champion in the tail end of their career who will set a direction for the team. They can acquire one such driver by showing some intent and actually making a proper investment into the team, something that Gene Haas either can’t, or doesn’t want to do. Hopefully the incoming Alfa Romeo sponsorship changes that.

    3. @streydt if you’re a rookie, chosing Haas would be an absolute tragedy for your career. Haas can only survive using drivers that are good, but have nothing else to prove… they are lucky they have 11 points!

    4. You all make very valid points and I guess my reasoning is a bit naive. But I just find it such a shame that a team like Haas isn’t supporting young talent (as much as I do like the current line up). I feel the team is in the Doldrums and going nowhere. I see someone saying Alfa Romeo will join them (would make sense and could be boost). One thing I would like to add though, Haas might not get as many points with a rookie but it might create more attention – I mean look at the situation with Mick last year, Haas was all over the news. This year not so much.

      1. They were all over the news because it was Mick Schumacher, not because it was a rookie. Mick Schumacher is still one of the most talked about drivers in F1 and he isn’t even on the grid. If you watch news of him on some social media platform the comment section is complete bananas. They gave him two seasons – ample time for him to prove himself and he didn’t.

  2. @streydt For a team like Haas there’s zero incentive to do as you suggest. They need results and the only reason to think of replacing KM is if by the end of the season he’s still beaten by NH by the same margin on qualy and points where he has a quarter of what the Hulk has got. As for the Hulk the way he’s performing right now it would be lunacy to replace him, especially with Drugovich, who I’m not sure ay all would be any improvement on KM, let alone NH, even after he goes through the rookie phase which, as proven by Mivk last year Haas are intolerant of. As for Newgarden it’s completely far fetched and unrealistic to think he’ll walk away from Penske to drive a Haas just to put a season of F1 on his CV.

  3. These guys are both limp dicks. Saying Hulk is somehow pushing him is disingenuous. Hulk qualifies better for sure, but is always behind Mag or barely in front after 10 laps or so. Hulk is no better than that Russian dude at challenging Mag which pretty much means Mag is terrible as well.

    1. When did Mazepin challenge Magnussen. You’re mixing things Up in your rant.
      Just accept that Hulk is still doing well.

    2. Yeah.. because Mazepin consistently got the 2nd slowest car on the grid in to Q3. Then finished ahead of Magnussen as well. Sure….

    3. The regularity with which you trash Hülkenberg seems comical. Did he ever steal your lunch or where does this persistence come from?

      Objective criticism is certainly appropriate, but consider the circumstances in which he must perform. He may be a mediocre driver, but he seems almost too good for Haas.

    4. @darryn What a limp comment. That Russian guy has never been in the same team as KM you can’t even get that right. Also you do realize that if a car is the worst on the tires on the grid of course you can’t sustain qualy speed, you drive to the limitation of the car and the car is useless. But the Hulk’s qualy speed is what brought the result which is that KM has barely over a quarter of the points that the Hulk has.

    5. You realise prior to Spa the last time Magnussen finished ahead of Hulkenberg was back in Miami.

  4. Hulk has been the biggest positive surprise on the drivers’ side this season for me. I really expected him to struggle having been out of the sport for a few years, but some of his qualifying performances have been outstanding. It’s a shame that the car chews its tyres and as a result has no race pace, which doesn’t allow either driver to show much in the races as they inevitably fall back towards their natural position, regardless of where they qualify.

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