Early F1 2024 struggler warned qualifying pace ‘not acceptable’ by team boss

Oliver Harden
A blurry shot of Kevin Magnussen, Haas, moving at speed during F1 2024 pre-season testing in Bahrain

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen moves at speed during F1 2024 pre-season testing in Bahrain.

Haas team principal Ayao Komatsu has warned Kevin Magnussen that his qualifying performance at last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix was “not acceptable.”

Having scored three points in arguably the most difficult season of his career in 2023, Magnussen had a tricky start to the F1 2024 campaign in Bahrain.

Kevin Magnussen warned after early F1 2024 qualifying struggles

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

While team-mate Nico Hulkenberg secured a place in Q3 for the second successive season at the season opener, Magnussen was eliminated as the slowest driver in Q2 with a lap 0.678 seconds slower than Hulkenberg.

Magnussen had an improved performance on race day, crossing the finish line 12th – four places in front of Hulkenberg, who was forced to pit for a new front wing after contact at the first corner.

Speaking to Danish publication Ekstra Bladet, Komatsu has outlined the different requirements of Hulkenberg and Magnussen in qualifying conditions – before firing a warning to the latter for being so far off his team-mate.

PlanetF1.com recommends

Mika Hakkinen points out Lewis Hamilton’s potential Ferrari pitfalls

Valtteri Bottas outlines one crucial Mercedes contract factor if return is to happen

He said: “For qualifying, you need a strong front. Then you can drive the car right to the limit.

“When it comes to fine-tuning the car, Nico is really good at that. And Nico is really, really good at getting everything out of it – balancing on a knife-edge.

“Kevin, on the other hand, needs a certain balance in the car.

“In qualifying, to achieve certain things, he sacrificed what he fundamentally needs in the corners, so he couldn’t put a lap together. But we have learned from it.

“Honestly, it’s just Kevin’s driving style. We know it. We know how to fix it. And we’ll do better in Jeddah.

“He has lots of talent. It’s just small margins, which suddenly became seven tenths in Q2.

“Which is not acceptable – neither from his side nor from our side.

“We’ll do better.”

Speaking to media including PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher after qualifying in Bahrain, Magnussen admitted he was finding the car “tricky” in qualifying conditions – but stressed that he is “right there” on Hulkenberg’s pace on longer runs.

He said: “From my side, it’s hard to be happy.

“The gap was very big to Nico and I don’t feel like I’ve maximised the potential in new tyres so far.

“It’s been a little bit the same as last year where [on] low fuel and new tyres I seem to struggle, and then in race trim it’s all fine. So I just need to get there on low fuel.

“When I get new tyres, it just picks up a lot of understeer and therefore I’m not able to use that better grip in the rear tyres because I’m in an understeer [situation].

“Nico, when I look at him, is able to get the car rotated and use that grip on the rear tyres on exits.

“I’ll get there, but for now it’s a bit tricky.

“Last year, the problem was more on entry and the balance shift. I have to look into it. It’s obviously just one qualifying.

“Every time we were out on used tyres, I was right there with him. And on new tyres. I couldn’t get the grip out of it.

“So it’s a bit puzzling, but I’ll work on it and get there.”

Read next: Five big Saudi Grand Prix questions: Christian Horner, Red Bull and more talking points