Kevin Magnussen: ‘I lost my way’ amid race engineer changes this year

Jamie Woodhouse
Kevin Magnussen at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Hungaroring July 2022.

Having gone through several changes of race engineer this season, Kevin Magnussen says his performances suffered as a result.

Back when testing was taking place in Barcelona ahead of the 2022 season, Magnussen had no expectations of being on the Formula 1 grid, but the call would come from Haas for him to replace Nikita Mazepin on a multi-year deal.

He certainly hit the ground running, finishing P5 in Bahrain at the end of his first race back in Formula 1, establishing early dominance over team-mate Mick Schumacher.

But Magnussen’s performances have not hit anything like those kind of heights in recent rounds, Schumacher having fought back as Haas’ shining light recently, most notably making Q3 at the Dutch GP, in what has been a season of decline for the American outfit.

Magnussen though believes the fact that he has been forced to switch race engineer twice this season has not helped his cause, with Ed Regan replaced by Mark Slade, while Dominic Haines filled the role on an interim basis in between.

“I’ve been changing race engineer a lot and I think I lost my way a bit,” Magnussen suggested to reporters ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix.

“I started trying things that weren’t so science-based in the set-up and more gut feeling-based, which isn’t the way to work in an F1 team. It is difficult when you’re changing [race engineers] like I have been.

“Right now, I’m trying to take a few steps back, maybe go back to some more like in the beginning of the year and start again.

“It’s not that I’ve had bad engineers, it’s just that I haven’t been able to build a strong relationship yet.”

Magnussen will not need to strike up a completely new relationship with Slade, as he knows him from when he drove at Renault while Slade was chief race engineer there.

So, the Dane hopes that he and Slade can become an effective partnership, where words won’t even be needed for understanding.

“I know him from Renault days, he was chief race engineer at Renault when I was there [in 2016],” Magnussen explained.

“He’s a super experienced guy, very clever and competent, [it] will be really interesting to get him on board and make use of all his experience and cleverness.

“For me, it’s about having someone who understands you and knows your strengths and weaknesses and is able to really exploit those strengths with the car set-up.

“You can build that relationship where you don’t even need to talk and he understands what you mean. That’s the kind of relationship I’m hoping to build with Mark.”

Magnussen can’t quite settle down just yet though, confirming that there is “still going to be a bit of shuffling around” as Slade will be his race engineer in Singapore, before Haines steps in again for Japan, handing back over to Slade for the United States GP.

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