Haas F1 team ‘new boy’ Kevin Magnussen is relishing the idea off getting as much mileage as possible with his new team during the first Formula 1 preseason test which begins on 27 February in Bareclona.
The Dane who moved from Renault to the American outfit spoke in a team released preview ahead of the first test at Circuit de Catalunya.
How did you spend your off-season? “Mainly spending time with friends and family but, obviously, the big focus this off-season was training. It’s actually been really nice. I haven’t traveled anywhere. I’ve stayed in Denmark and been training every day. My full focus has been on my fitness. It’s been really nice getting into a good rhythm.”
With the expectation that this new generation car is going to be dramatically faster than the previous car, did you adjust your fitness regimen to compensate for the higher level of g-forces you’re likely to encounter? “It’s a bit difficult as we don’t really know 100 percent how fast these cars will be, but the expectation is that they will be much faster than the previous generation of car. The best thing is to just prepare as well as you can and if anything, overdo it. There’s no point risking not being fit enough or strong enough, so training has been much harder this off-season. We’ll see how challenging the cars are when we get to Barcelona. We can adjust the training again from there.”
Did you do more weight training? If so, what areas did you focus on – neck, shoulders, back, arms? “It’s been more strength training. Before you were designing your training program to not gain any weight, now we’ve relaxed that a little bit and we’re able to train harder with more strength-focused training rather than just long cardio sessions.”
What are your expectations for the test? “Hopefully, to get a lot of miles. First of all, I’m just massively looking forward to getting back in the car. It’s been a long winter. You miss driving, even after a couple of weeks out. It’ll be nice just to get back in and get some laps, to get the feeling back and enjoy the car. Then, hopefully, I’ll get lots of running without too many interruptions so we can learn about the car and get as much data as possible.”
You spent two years with McLaren and a year with Renault. Each time, you had to develop a rapport with the team. How do you work to find the same level of comfort with your new employer, Haas F1 Team? “I’ve been fairly lucky to have been in two teams where people have been very nice. It’s been easy, socially, to get along with everyone and feel part of the team. Everyone I’ve worked with in both teams, and at Haas, have been really nice people. I don’t know if that’s a general thing inside of Formula One, but it’s been great fun getting to know all these people. It’s been great to have experience from three great teams.”
How eager are you to get to Barcelona and get acclimated to a new car and a new team? “It’s pretty exciting for me now. I’m with a new team that I’m looking forward to starting to work with. I feel excited about these new cars. Everyone is expecting them to be much faster and it looks like it will be a faster car than the previous generation, and perhaps even the fastest car we’ve ever seen in Formula One. That’s very exciting for me as a driver. Obviously, I’m just hoping we’ll have a very strong season together. The team did really well last year. They delivered a really strong season and this year we’ll try to make use of that experience gained by the team. I have a feeling that everyone on the team feels more prepared and ready for the season than at this point last year.”
What was your first impression of Haas F1 Team when it showed up for last year’s preseason test at Barcelona? “When we saw that car in Barcelona, it just looked very nice. You can look at a car and you can see whether it’s well developed or underdeveloped, and it looked well developed. We saw it and thought, ‘OK, that’s quite impressive that they managed to get to that point so quickly.’ And then , obviously, as the races went on, the first trace, the second race with P6 and P5, it was very impressive. To actually improve on that this year is going to be a real challenge. It’s not going to be something that’s just a given. We really need to work hard to achieve that level of performance.”
Describe a lap around Barcelona. “The best place in Barcelona is probably turn nine – the very fast right-hander uphill. You have a big challenge on the exit. There’s a big gravel trap and then a wall on the right. You can feel that you’re going faster. It’s perhaps not the most technical corner, but it’s a fun corner.
“To get around Barcelona well you need the same thing you need at every track, and that’s balance. The balance in the car has got to be good, but to do well, you need to have a lap that is free of mistakes and has a good flow.
“Barcelona is the track we know best. It’s a track that we’re used to because we’ve competed there so many times before in other categories before Formula One. And now, we spend a lot of time testing there. So, we know it well.
“Barcelona is very hard on the tires. It’s so high energy, which isn’t so representative for places like Austria or Monaco, where the tire energies are lower, and even Australia is a place where tire energies are quite low. So, some of the things we learn in Barcelona are not applicable elsewhere. But, for our test there, it’s still important to see how the car reacts with different setup changes. You’re able to get a feel for the car.”