Steiner hails 'magic' Magnussen qualifying performance after 'painful' penalty
Haas bounced back from a miserable start to Saturday as Kevin Magnussen produced what Guenther Steiner described as a 'magic' qualifying lap to limit the damage from a five-place grid penalty awarded for an earlier unscheduled gearbox change.
After last weekend's race in France - an outing Steiner described as the team's worst in F1 - Haas were on the backfoot again before qualifying got under way after discovering an issue on Magnussen's car mid-way through FP3. The problems forced the Dane to sit out the rest of the session and prompted a gearbox change which forced the American team to take a painful five-place grid penalty.
But Magnussen gave the team a welcome boost with a stunning lap time that put him P5 before penalties dropped him further down the grid to tenth.
“Kevin did a fantastic job today with his last lap - it was magic,” commented delighted Team Principal Guenther Steiner after the session.
Magnussen has had the edge over team mate Romain Grosjean in qualifying this season, beating the Frenchman on Saturday for the fourth consecutive race and the seventh in 2019.
“After FP3 we lost the gearbox and had to change it,” said Magnussen. “All the guys in the garage just flew on to the car, even the other side of the garage came in and worked incredibly fast to get it ready. Even with the penalty, it was a real team effort.
Magnussen continued: “The car’s been feeling good all weekend but it seems like, at this time, with the tyres and all that it’s so up and down and so unpredictable. When the car comes alive and when the tyres come alive you just have to take it and be there and get the lap in.”
Kevin did a fantastic job today with his last lap - it was magic
Haas have consistently made it into Q3 this season but have often tailed off in the races after struggling to get their tyres into the optimum operating window. They currently languish ninth in the constructors’ standings with 16 points, while both drivers sit below the top 10 in the drivers’ table.
Of Magnussen's grid penalty, Steiner said: “It’s painful, it’s at the wrong time again, what can I say? We are not happy about it but what can we do about it, it’s a fact. Starting fifth would be fantastic, it would be fantastic for the whole sport I think. In fifth, Vettel behind, Gasly behind, it would be cool you know.”
With Magnussen getting the best out of his car today, is a strong top 10 finish and some much needed points on the cards for tomorrow?