Haas have now put a car in P6 on the grid for both of the Grands Prix so far this year, with Kevin Magnussen getting the job done in Bahrain to match team mate Romain Grosjean’s efforts from Australia.
With the works Ferrari team enjoying a comfortable margin at the head of the field in qualifying, Haas used the Prancing Horse’s power units to good effect in Sakhir too, Magnussen’s first run in Q3 proving good enough to get within 0.005s of the Red Bull of Max Verstappen come the end of the session. And the Dane couldn’t hide his pleasure when asked if he thought he’d produced one of the quali laps of his career in Bahrain.
“It was definitely a very, very good lap,” said Magnussen. “I tried to improve on the second one and it wasn't like I made a mistake. I knew I had to really, really pull something strange out of the hat. I didn't really know where to find it so I didn't improve but that means the first lap was very, very good.
“Today in qualifying, we just really took another step and improved even further,” he added. “When I got into qualifying, knew I had a good car. I didn't really touch it all qualifying which is a good sign.”
Looking ahead to Sunday’s race, Magnussen was similarly optimistic that he had a good car underneath him, his Haas VF-19 appearing well-suited to the cooler evening conditions that he’ll face in the Grand Prix. And with Haas’ principal rivals Renault only managing P10 and P17 on the grid for Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg respectively, it was boding well for Magnussen to secure another strong result come the chequered flag, having finished an impressive P6 last time out in Australia.
“I mean, we've been stronger in quali trim this weekend than race trim,” said Magnussen, after Friday’s data appeared to show Haas with the fifth-best race pace, just behind Toro Rosso. “We did a few changes so hopefully that's helped the situation. Renault looked really strong on Friday, especially in the long runs, but with them being back there, it's a small help.”
The only cloud on Haas’ horizon was a three-place grid drop for Grosjean, who was also handed a penalty point on his FIA Super Licence for his heart-stopping block on Lando Norris in the first segment of qualifying. That means that, having ended qualifying just two places behind Magnussen in P8, the Frenchman will now start Sunday’s race from 11th on the grid.