Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Losail International Circuit, 2023

Magnussen admits he took “too long to learn” Losail circuit

Formula 1

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Haas’s Kevin Magnussen rued that he took “too long to learn” the Losail International Circuit, which he raced on for the first time last weekend.

His 158-race Formula 1 career did not include the inaugural running of the Qatar Grand Prix in 2021, and he never visited Losail during his junior single-seater career either.

Despite his extensive experience, Magnussen said he let himself down over the weekend by not learning the flowing track layout fast enough. As it was a sprint race weekend, he had one one hour of practice before qualifying for the grand prix to learn the layout.

“I didn’t know the track coming here, and frankly it took me too long to learn,” he admitted after finishing 14th in the grand prix.

Magnussen said he only found a rhythm around the track during Sunday’s race. He was one of five drivers who were totally new to Losail, with three of others yet to debut in F1 when it last raced in Qatar. However the track was resurfaced ahead of last week’s race.

“It was a bigger challenge than I thought it would be, and unfortunately I couldn’t with one practice learn the track, which is kind of understandable, but I got caught out and was surprised by it a little bit,” a resigned Magnussen said.

“I didn’t maximise it. You get one practice, I didn’t really find the rhythm properly and then I kind of just tried too hard in both qualifying [sessions].”

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“I was out in Q1, so I only got [those laps]. If we had a ‘easy Q3’ car, you could get more laps and get used to it. But I was out in Q1 both times, so because I didn’t do a good enough lap [I didn’t get more].”

His team mate Nico Hulkenberg reached Q2 in Friday qualifying, then put himself seventh on the grid for the sprint race. It marked his second outing at Losail, having won from pole when GP2 Asia visited the track in 2009.

“After practice one, I remembered how much I like this track,” said Hulkenberg. “Obviously it was a long time since 2009, and I kind of forgot how cool it was.

“It’s my type of circuit, very flowing. I don’t know. I just got it hooked, I think, and then feel really comfortable and confident.”

“Obviously we don’t have much time here with the one practice, so we didn’t do too much [car tuning], or we couldn’t do too much,” he added. “It was not easy, especially with the wind yesterday and this morning.

“But I think we managed pretty well, considering all the circumstances and that we have a car that hasn’t had an update for half a season or something.”

However neither Haas driver scored last weekend. Hulkenberg retired from the sprint race in a three-car crash with Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon and finished a lapped 16th in the grand prix. Magnussen came 13th in the sprint race and 14th on Sunday.

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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3 comments on “Magnussen admits he took “too long to learn” Losail circuit”

  1. I assume Haas has a simulator – why wasn’t he learning the track in the simulator?

    1. They don’t have a simulator Mark.

      1. That seems extraordinary given that a half decent motion platform, VR home set-up can be put together from about £6k. If all you’re doing is learning the track, that’s all you need. How much per lap does an F1 car cost to run?

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