Kevin Magnussen has outlined rear grip consistency as the area he believes has been key to unlocking maximum performance from Haas’ 2018 Formula 1 car so far this year. 

Having started sixth in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, Magnussen ran in a comfortable fourth until a disastrous double pit stop problem forced both he and teammate Romain Grosjean into retirement. 

The Dane made it into Q3 once more in Bahrain by qualifying seventh and went on to finish the race in fifth, before scoring a further point in China last weekend. Following a promising start to the new campaign, Magnussen said having a car at his disposal with a “predictable” rear-end has helped him extract extra speed. 

“There seems to be this idea that our car understeers but I don’t think it is and I don’t like understeer, I like grip, a lot of grip in the car, and this car has a good amount of downforce and grip,” Magnussen explained. “Particularly rear grip on entry is very consistent. 

“Not to say that it is understeering but you have a predictable rear that almost means you can take more at the front because the rear is so predictable and won’t suddenly step out in moments you do not expect which is a very good feature in this year’s car compared to last year’s car. 

“It means you can attack the corners with more aggression and carry more speed into the apex. It is a lot better than last year.” 

Magnussen - who has recorded all of Haas’ points so far in 2018 - puts his strong start to the campaign down to a combination of factors, including being involved in the development of the US squad’s VF-18 challenger heading into his sophomore season with the team. 

“I think it is a combination of things. Of course I have a better car than the start of last year and also there is a different feeling going into this season knowing the team and knowing everything. 

“Having a car too that I’ve been part of the development with. The preparation is a lot better, there was a lot of good stuff we could build on from last year not with the same car but similar so when we come to the races there is stuff we can look back at from last year and the way we did things. 

“We can do things better from that perspective. I think it is a big advantage to have that second year with the team but I’m only seeing that now as I’ve never been in a second year with any team. It is visible now that it is a bit advantage.”

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