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Kevin Magnussen, MoneyGram Haas F1 Team
Kevin Magnussen, MoneyGram Haas F1 Team

K-Mag takes a look ahead to his ninth season in Formula 1, with pre-season testing beginning tomorrow at the Bahrain International Circuit.

Entering your seventh season with MoneyGram Haas F1 Team, the big change this off-season is a change of leadership with Ayao Komatsu taking over as Team Principal. What do you think Ayao will bring to the role and what is your relationship like with him? 

“I have a good relationship with Ayao. He’s been with the team for eight years, since the beginning in 2016, so I’ve worked very closely with him ever since I came to Haas in 2017. It’s been a big change in our team, of course, becoming Team Principal. Ayao is an engineer, and he has a reasonable amount of engineering experience with a Formula 1 team, and getting into that mindset at the helm of the team is going to be very interesting. I think it’s going to change the dynamic and communication across the whole organization.” 


You said before the winter that you’d return fitter than ever – how has your off-season fitness regime been going? 

“It’s been going well. I think every year I try to outdo myself in terms of getting to the track a little bit fitter every time. There’s always more you can do, you never nail it completely. You could’ve always trained a little bit harder. Certainly, over the last couple of years I’ve focused on it a lot more and ever since they set the limit for driver weight, you can actually gain a bit of weight, gain a bit of muscle without being at a disadvantage. I took advantage of that over the last couple of years. I’m looking forward to a season where I’m starting very fit but maintaining that level of fitness all the way through the season will be a challenge.”

Kevin Magnussen, MoneyGram Haas F1 Team

The team brought a late update to Austin, and you continued to use it for the remainder of the season. What changes did you specifically feel in that package and are you happy the team is progressing in that direction with the VF-24? 

“The update was more of an experiment last year. It’s hard to call it an update or upgrade because it wasn’t really upwards, it was just sideways, but it was a very good experiment in terms of committing to the concept of car that we have this year. I think we wanted to see the potential and characteristics on track with this concept of car and this year is in that direction. I hope we can take a step forward. We committed to this year’s car quite late in development, so we’ve had quite a short time to develop, and it’s actually been going quite well. Although I don’t think we can guarantee that it’s a step forward straightaway in Bahrain at the first race, I think the development looks more interesting at least.”  


It’s been said the Austin package suited you better and this year’s car will adapt better to your needs as a driver. What were the issues you were facing with the VF-23, and how did you attempt to overcome them? 

“I think the car we started the season with – before race 19 when we got the upgrade – had good grip, the peak grip was nice, but it was very unstable and inconsistent. It’s something that I struggled with a little bit. I like the front to be at least consistent so that I can deal with over-steer or under-steer. It’s not like I have a preference really, it’s the inconsistency, especially on the late entry to the corners, that’s where I need to be able to commit to getting the car rotated and staying on the brakes. It helped a lot with the car from Austin. It wasn’t a massive step, but it was a step in the right direction, and I hope this year is an even bigger step in that direction.” 

Kevin Magnussen, MoneyGram Haas F1 Team

What are your expectations both out of the gates in Bahrain and in terms of the upgrade program with the VF-24?  

“I think expectations are being managed quite well this year. I think some years there has been some unrealistic optimism going into seasons and I’ve been affected by it as well. Certainly, Ayao is very clear that he doesn’t think we’ve moved out of last year’s position yet but he’s clear in that he sees the development trajectory looking a lot stronger, so he’s actually optimistic that we can move forward through this year. The entire field is so close together and I think last year we completely ran into a wall in terms of development. We couldn’t really break that barrier until we shifted the concept, and this year is looking a lot better. Expectations are low to begin with but high for the season as a whole.”


The Las Vegas Grand Prix debuted last season taking the tally of US races to three, alongside Miami and Austin. What stands out to you regarding the three American races, both in terms of the fanbase, atmosphere etc – both at track and off it in the respective cities?  

“Well for us they’re very important. We’re an American-owned team and we’ve got an American title sponsor with MoneyGram, so those three races are the most important for us throughout the whole year. There’s always extra anticipation, extra pressure, and extra happiness when we do well there. I think it’s pretty clear why they’re important for Formula 1 also. The US market is the newest market that Formula 1 has penetrated. All the new fans over there means the races are very hyped, so they are very important races for everyone, not just us.”


You passed the 150 grand prix milestone last season. Do statistics mean much to you while you race or are they something you’ll look back on in the future once you’ve hung up your helmet? 

“I think those kinds of statistics do mean a lot but still you don’t really want to admit it. In reality, what you want to care about is the results, the more impressive statistics, like how many podiums, poles, wins or championships. That’s the sort of statistic that you grow up dreaming about, not how many races you participated in. At the end of the day, having been in Formula 1 for that many years and having done that many races, it’s still a milestone, it’s still an achievement, but not something I was dreaming about as a kid.”

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