F1 Driver Kevin Magnussen Applauds Change at Haas: ‘We Didn’t Grow Enough’

Jackson Wheeler
4 Min Read

While Nico Hulkenberg sounded regretful about Haas F1 Team boss Gunther Steiner’s preseason sacking, teammate Kevin Magnussen is more upbeat about the new era.

The American outfit finished dead last in the F1 Constructors’ Championship in 2023, prompting American team owner Gene Haas to differ with Steiner’s assessment that the team needs more funding—and simply oust him.

“I had a great relationship with Gunther, but we didn’t grow enough,” Magnussen, a long-time and continuing Haas driver, told media outlet Sky Italia at this week’s Bahrain test. I think this new development will be beneficial.”

formula 1 testing in bahrain day 1

Mario Renzi – Formula 1//Getty Images

Kevin Magnussen is looking forward to a new leader at Haas.

He applauds the promotion from within of Ayao Komatsu, a low-profile engineer who is now in Steiner’s shoes as team principal. Magnussen says Komatsu is approaching Haas from an engineering perspective—leading to the rare sight of the 2024 car wearing the type of aero sensor array that is commonplace for the other teams.

“Exactly,” Magnussen nodded when asked by Ekstra Bladet if it’s an early example of the new Komatsu reign.

He said Komatsu has decided that the main priority for the entire three-day preseason test is to tune the new car so it doesn’t burn through the tires in the races.

“He has so far been very focused on just keeping everyone on track with our task right now,” said Magnussen, “which is to improve our situation in the races. Because that is clearly what will give us a better season. So why not use our three test days to learn more about that? That’s how it’s been all pre-season.

“This also applies to the assessment of expectations internally in the team. We don’t dream as much this year. We know what task lies ahead, the situation we are in, and we deal with it realistically. He (Komatsu) is an engineer. He sees things with different eyes. But a Formula 1 team consists mainly of engineers and they now have someone at the top who speaks the same language.

“Of course Gunther had his own strengths. Ayao is certainly not the type for commercial matters. But I’m not worried about that.

“I just want a fast racing car.”

Magnussen says the 2024 car “feels better” than its two 2023-spec predecessors, “but it will be like that for everyone.”

More important, he argues, is that Komatsu represents much-needed change at Haas.

“He’s not going to throw everything away straight away,” said Magnussen. “But it’s a positive start that he’s always here at the track. It still feels like he’s a race engineer, except now he’s at the top. When the mechanics are working late at night, he’s there too. This creates a different dynamic. He’s fully focused on making sure everyone is going in the same direction.”

Magnussen agrees with Hulkenberg, however, that the new car does not and will not represent a quantum leap for Haas.

“It’s very frustrating when you have a fast car on one lap, but can’t maintain the speed for a whole stint,” Magnussen said. “And unfortunately, we don’t have any answers yet. But there are clues.

“If we can improve the performance in the race just a little bit, things will look completely different for us.”

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at Speedofdaily.com, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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