F1 strugglers pinpoint reason for hope after pre-season doom and gloom

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.

Kevin Magnussen has declared it is easier for Haas to manage their tyres with the new VF-24 car following a desperate season in 2023.

Haas finished bottom of the Constructors’ Championship for the second time in three years last season, with Magnussen and team-mate Nico Hulkenberg limited to just four points finishes between them.

The team announced last month that Guenther Steiner had paid the price for Haas’s poor performance, with the charismatic team principal’s contract not renewed at the end of 2023. Steiner has been replaced by Ayao Komatsu for the new season.

Kevin Magnussen hopeful of much-improved F1 2024 season

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

While the team’s 2023 car could qualify well – particularly in the hands of Hulkenberg, classified second on the road in a rain-interrupted session in Canada – tyre management proved to be a huge weakness for Haas with both drivers inevitably falling back on race day.

The situation was likened to Haas’s 2019 season, when the car would frequently overheat its tyres, while Magnussen’s campaign was likened in some quarters to Daniel Ricciardo’s time at McLaren, where the Australian proved unable to gel with the car.

After three days of pre-season testing in Bahrain, where Haas recorded more laps than any other team with 441 on the board, Magnussen declared himself satisfied that the team have made a good step forward in terms of tyre management.

He told media including PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher in Bahrain: “The feeling of the car [is that] you can push a bit more, it’s a bit easier to manage the tyres.

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“They don’t just fall off no matter what you do. It’s a little bit more manageable, so that’s good.

“Pace wise, where we are? Who knows?”

Asked if it is fair to regard Haas’s tyre breakthrough as really significant, he replied: “It is fair.

“Certainly, in the beginning, you think we’ll fix it, we’ll fix the problem – and then we get all the way through the season and we haven’t fixed it.

“It kept being surprising how difficult it was to figure out the issue, so it’s nice that we’ve gone over the winter and really tried our best to address that issue and we feel like there’s some progress.

“It’s a very complex issue. It’s a mix of a lot of different factors. Being able to maintain the car and its tyres in good condition, it’s not a simple thing.

“So we’re still pushing and going quick, so I think we’ve made progress on that.

“But are doing that at a slow pace relative to others? It’s hard to say.”

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