In the round-up: Kevin Magnussen wants Haas to mimic Aston Martin’s vault to the front of the field.
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Haas finished eighth in the constructors’ championship last year, one place behind Aston Martin. However they have seen their rivals take a leap forward this year, while Haas remains in the thick of an increasingly close midfield fight.
“Every year we talk about how close it is this year and certainly this year it’s taken a big step again towards being more close,” said Magnussen. “So I think it’s not going to be the case that you get to the first race with a car and you see where you are and you stay there the whole year and every race you know you’re fighting for P8 or P9 or whatever.
“This year you’ve got to get everything right to get that the P8 or P7 or whatever is the ‘best of the rest’. There’s one of the midfield teams that’s moved up close to the top and it’s a different grid this year. I think that was what surprised me a little bit.”
Magnussen said Haas made the gains they expected during the off-season but need to target more to catch up with the likes of Aston Martin.
“We knew we were going to take a step with the car this year and we were confident about that and it shows on the track,” said Magnussen. “We do have that performance that we were hoping for. Other teams have just done a really good job, too. So we’re still in that mix of the midfield.
“Of course, we would love to be towards the top, taking a big step like Aston Martin. But that’s what we’ve got to aim to do in the future.”
Mercedes say the major upgrade package they will bring to next week’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix will be the “first step” in transforming the W14 into a competitive package.
“It takes quite a long time to develop in the wind tunnel and you can’t just do these things overnight,” said the team’s trackside operations director Andrew Shovlin. “The Imola package are the first steps in that direction. We are hoping to bring other updates later in the year.
“We do hope that it is quicker, we hope that it’s better in terms of qualifying and race pace. The key thing though is that we are not just looking to bring a lap time update, we are looking to head off in a different development direction. One that we think gives us a better chance in the long term of being able to challenge for race wins and world championships.”
Marcus Ericsson said he felt he never managed to get his F1 career going, as he lost his drive after five seasons in the series. He described the moment he learned he had lost his place on the Formula 1 grid at the end of 2018. With his Sauber team mate Charles Leclerc heading to Ferrari, Kimi Raikkonen’s arrival in his place meant an end to Ericsson’s time at the team:
“I knew the other seat that Charles had was going to be a Ferrari junior or a Ferrari driver in that,” he told David Land. “So Kimi got signed in sort of ‘my’ seat and then I knew this is it, that’s over. But in a way I never really got my F1 career to sort of get going. At that time I was pretty broken down in my confidence levels and everything. I had a tough time.”
Ericsson admitted “in some ways it was disappointing, of course, but at the same way, I also felt it’s a chance for me to do something else and really find some new motivation.”
He eventually moved to IndyCar with Schmidt Peterson and now drives for Ganassi. “The same day I got the information that I was going to get replaced, I called my manager and I told him we need to look at America, we need to look at IndyCar, that’s where I want to go,” said Ericsson.
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