BUDAPEST, Hungary — Despite losing a big haul of points last weekend, Kevin Magnussen feels the late chaos of the German Grand Prix provided a good learning opportunity for himself and Haas.
Having run sixth for most of the race, Magnussen was shuffled out of contention for points late on as the rain intensified at Hockenheim. Two errors on one lap saw him slip behind Nico Hulkenberg and teammate Romain Grosjean, which in turn meant he had to wait patiently in the pit stops as Haas decided to double-stack its drivers for tyre changes. He was unable to replicate Grosjean’s late charge through the field and finished 11th.
Teammate Grosjean eventually finished sixth, but Magnussen was left wondering what might had been after a strong weekend up to that point.
“It was a very tricky decision-making [moment], very short time to make a decision,” Magnussen explained. It’s no secret it was very tricky but I made the call to box and I saw Romain box as well and I thought probably the team would have split the strategies in that condition because if you went in with two cars most likely you would lose and go out of the points by the finish.
“I think there was a lot of miscommunication in a very, very short time, a lot of people speaking on the radio and both drivers probably talking as well. In those cases it’s bound to go wrong. It would have been a lot better to split the strategies instead of the double shuffle we ended up doing twice.”
When asked if the strategy call showed the relative inexperience of the Haas team compared to rivals, he said: “Yeah, of course. But also in that moment I also could have taken a different approach, I could have asked them to box earlier and they would have had more time… I said it very late and I saw Romain box as well.
“It was just a miscommunication and I probably expected too much because in that moment, in those last few seconds before the pit entry, there’s so much communication they don’t have a chance to separate that and take a proper decision. We all have to do better in that case.
“After the last race we go through things and it’s a very good learning exercise, you learn a lot from that, or I feel I’ve learned a lot from that anyway. If we have a similar situation again I feel a lot more calm and content of what to do and what to look for, I’ll be a lot less confused I think.
“It was a good exercise but obviously very disappointing as we’ve been very strong all weekend. It was a big hit to suddenly lose it all.”
With Haas currently in a fight for fourth position with Renault, which holds a significant points advantage in the championship, team boss Guenther Steiner admits the team opted for a more cautious approach to minimise the risk of leaving Germany with no points.
“Germany, with the rain coming, we are in a position where you can just get it wrong,” Steiner said. “Because you cannot take risks and you play on the fence but playing on the fence you never gain. You always lose out so it’s one of these positions.
“Should we risk full and then I sit here and maybe we would have lost 10 points to Renault. So we lost two. You try to limit the damage on races like this. The decision taken to get them in together, let’s not do anything stupid which could work out great, all of a sudden you a third, but it could work out stupid and all of a sudden you have zero points. I think the risk to have zero points was higher than the opportunity to finish up third.
“It’s this decision you need to take in 10-15 seconds and you don’t actually take them actively. They are just coming so let’s try to limit the damage. Because we just try to be cautious about it, because in these situations you can never gain. We need a bit of luck. Like in Germany, without rain, it’s fine. Then the rain comes and then we are in a position where we could look like heroes or zeroes.”