Kevin Magnussen insists Haas are trying to keep ambitions realistic this season, but he “can feel something good is coming”.
The Dane is back with the team for which he competed between 2017 and 2020, missing last year after being told his services were no longer required as Haas needed to bring in two drivers – both rookies – who could bring in greater sponsorship funding.
However, current events in eastern Europe have led to Haas parting company with Nikita Mazepin and their title sponsor, so back comes Magnussen to fill the void as a more experienced team-mate for Mick Schumacher.
Indications in testing were that, after a 2021 campaign the team wrote off, the decision to put all their development focus on 2022 could pay a dividend as each constructor created a new car from scratch.
Instead of bringing up the rear as they did last year, when they failed to score a point, Haas have shown signs they will be at the very least a match for some of their rivals.
Magnussen said nobody is getting carried away, but the mood is positive and, following his discussions with team principal Guenther Steiner, hopes are high that strong results may be just around the corner.
“He didn’t promise anything,” the 29-year-old driver told reporters in Bahrain. “He said they have been working really hard on it and have given me some indications and then just walking around, speaking to everyone in the team, I feel there is some sort of vibe going on.
“Let’s see. I don’t think we are going for the championship this year but I think there is a good atmosphere. You can feel something good is coming, but let’s see.”
Surprises could happen with so many unknowns, especially at the start of the season, but Haas are not expecting to turn the order from last year upside down.
“Our expectations are under control,” added Magnussen, who set the fastest time on day two of testing in Bahrain – but only when Haas were the solitary team running in the cooler evening temperatures when granted extra time due to the Thursday morning session they had been forced to miss due to transportation problems.
“We know better than to think we will go out there and smash it.
“But it’s good that there’s a lot of smiles around the team and everyone is looking forward to it, and they are not scared of going on track with something that will be embarrassing because I feel like the team are in a good place.”