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Magnussen: Haas VF20 not yet ‘strong enough’ to target Q1

Haas’ Kevin Magnussen says the US outfit has a very “usable’ car in race trim, but acknowledges the VF20’s weakness in qualifying.

A bold strategy call in Hungary, when the team ordered its drivers to switch to slick tyres at the end of the race’s formation lap, propelled Magnussen among the top ten from where the Dane held his own – despite a 5-second time penalty – to claim his first point of the 2020 season.

The 27-year-old driver believes the performance at the Hungaroring demonstrated the overall qualities of Haas’ VF20, at least as demonstrated on race day.

“I think we’ve learned a huge amount about the VF-20 in the first three races,” Magnussen explained in the team’s British Grand Prix preview.

“It’s been good to get to know the car a bit more and I believe we’ve been successful in making progress in the direction we’ve tried to go with this year’s car in comparison to the VF-19.

“The car is much more drivable in the race, it’s very usable, but we still need to find more qualifying pace – and we’re working on that.”

©Haas

Magnussen insists the VF20 is a clear step forward compared to Haas’ 2019 contender.

“Last year’s car, for example, you couldn’t push for very long, then you lost grip in the tires,” he added.

“The VF-20 seems to keep the tires in the working window for the whole stint – much better than last year’s car. I’d say that’s really the main difference.

“The characteristics of the car on a single lap is also better, but obviously we need more overall performance to be able to get more out of it in qualifying and the race. The baseline of the car is really good though.”

Yet, a spot among the top-ten in qualifying will likely remain a tall order for Haas.

“I don’t feel currently that we are strong enough for any more than sneaking into Q2 in qualifying,” he said.

“We’re much stronger in the race, as I’ve said, but we just have to do the best we can in qualifying to get us as far up as we can so we can fight in the race. We certainly need to focus on qualifying from here.”

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As for Haas’ prospects for next weekend’s reprise at Silverstone, Magnussen says the team will likely follow its usual routine.

“I would say the ingredient for a good weekend at Silverstone is lots of downforce, although you still have some pretty decent straights – so you do need straight line speed as well,” he said.

“I don’t think we’ll change our approach very much; I think we’ll just try and get our car into the window.

“We’ll use free practice for trying to get the car set-up right and get ourselves ready for qualifying and the race.”

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