Kevin Magnussen’s ability to drive around problems better than teammate Romain Grosjean is making the difference in their early season Formula 1 form, reckons Haas team boss Gunther Steiner.
Magnussen has scored all of Haas’ 11 points so far this season and has shown well at all three races – whereas Grosjean has not been as consistent.
Reflecting on why there was this disparity, Steiner said that one of the key differences between his two drivers was down to how they dealt with an imperfect car.
“I think Romain is more that the car needs to be perfect to his liking, whereas Kevin can drive around a lot of things,” said Steiner. “It is both things, plus and minuses to be honest.
“If we have a perfect car then [Romain] is fantastic whereas Kevin says ‘okay it is okay.’ But he has learned and he pushes hard for what he wants now. If Kevin has a small problem he adapts better to drive around it.”
Steiner also reckons that Magnussen’s strong start to 2018 has been helped by the atmosphere at Haas lifting his confidence levels.
“For sure a stronger car gives you more confidence and that I think is what Kevin needed,” he said. “But being the second year in a team you don’t always have to worry about ‘do I drive next year?' Always this continued pressure helps a lot but then again he is consistent and fast.
“You get this momentum sometimes going in life and it is just uphill. There will be at some point again, a little downhill, but I know Kevin’s talent. That is why we took him.
“We know there is a very good raw talent there, but I think the surroundings need to be working for him that you can get this talent out. Having the team around him, being small, being direct and being honest, and now with a good car that has brought his confidence up and he can deliver.
"He is not distracted by anything else than doing a good race car driving."
Haas chief race engineer Ayao Komatsu also believes that Magnussen’s overall form is being help by him having addressed his biggest weakness, which was qualifying form.
“Kevin is [in his] second year, so he knows his engineers, he knows me, he knows the team more, so he is much more relaxed,” Komatsu told Motorsport.com. "And we understand better what he needs from the car.
“Again Kevin’s weakness last year has been qualifying, you know, when the pressure is on. He improved that one. We always knew that he could race, which he showed last year. So this year, because he’s upped his game in qualifying it’s good.”
Additional reporting by Scott Mitchell