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Haas driver Magnussen reveals the midfield team he fears most at the end of pre-season testing

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Kevin Magnussen reckons Aston Martin may have taken a “big step” forward with their new car after being impressed by what he saw from the team during this week’s pre-season test at the Bahrain International Circuit.

Following a difficult start to the pre-season for Aston Martin, which saw Lance Stroll ruled out of testing and reserve driver Felipe Drugovich grind to a halt on the AMR23’s first run, matters improved with a series of reliable stints and eye-catching times.

READ MORE: Perez and Red Bull fastest as 2023 pre-season testing comes to an end in Bahrain

Indeed, new Aston Martin signing Fernando Alonso finished a close second to Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on the first day of running, and Haas driver Magnussen admitted that he is watching the green machine closely.

Asked for his thoughts on the pecking order, Magnussen referred to Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes when covering the anticipated front-runners, before pointing to Aston Martin – the team that finished seventh in last year’s constructors’ standings – as a potential big mover.

“I think it’s the usual suspects at the front. Maybe Aston Martin looked really impressive these three days. I think they may have taken a big step,” he commented.

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Aston Martin are on Magnussen’s radar after pre-season testing

“But then after that there’s this big group of teams that it’s very difficult to see where you are. At least we know we’re close to that group, in the mix, and then it’s a long season ahead, it’s a development race that’s going to happen.”

Magnussen, who finished seventh on the combined testing timesheets, two spots ahead of Alonso amid varying run plans, then expanded on how Haas are shaping up for the new campaign.

READ MORE: Perez hails Red Bull’s ‘tremendous’ winter push and warns team will start 2023 ‘much stronger’ than last year

“It’s different [to last year], because the cars are different, there’s different rules, so there’s little traits that feel different, but overall it feels good,” said the Dane.

“We put a soft tyre on the car at the end there and did a bit of a qualifying simulation and it actually felt good, and I think the lap time we did looks like it’s still in the midfield somewhere, so that’s a good starting point.

“It’s going to be exciting to see how we actually go in qualifying next Saturday, and then of course the big test is in the race on Sunday.”

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