Kevin Magnussen believes Haas’ qualifying performance at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix shows the US squad has “clearly” established itself at the front of the Formula 1 midfield.

Romain Grosjean ensured one Haas car will start Sunday’s race from the third row of the Melbourne grid in sixth, while Magnussen was a few tenths further back in seventh.

The American outfit found itself only behind cars from F1’s leading trio of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, and was over a quarter of a second faster than the next challenger - McLaren driver Lando Norris.

Asked if he thinks Haas is at the front of the midfield pack, Magnussen replied: “Well clearly, I think.

“When you have two or three tenths in this midfield, that is a big gap. It’s not like we have a second to the next guys but today the car had three tenths, four tenths down to the next one.

“Very satisfied with this start to the season. We’ve been hopeful of our potential but no matter what it’s always a nerve-racking time because you think you know where you are but then you want to go and prove it on track. But today we did and we looked good.

“Over the winter it’s been a big challenge with these new regulations, it’s incredible that the team is able to still keep it up and be as competitive as we are today.”

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Magnussen felt he could have “easily” extracted another couple of tenths from his final Q3 run had he not lost “a lot” of time with a slight mistake under braking into Turn 6.

“It was a shit lap,” The Dane admitted. “I think the car, I didn’t get it at all out of it, what I should have.

“You only have one shot in Q3 and that wasn’t too pretty so think the car is pretty good. Very happy with the starting point and the car the team has given to start the season.”

Grosjean echoed Magnussen’s comments and praised Haas for producing a car that feels better than its predecessor.

“We really need to give credit to the boys, that have been working on that car, and producing it again very well, as they did last year,” the Frenchman said.

“I think we did well and the car is really nice to drive, the feeling is better than it was last year. 

“Another question will be to bring updates and make sure that we get more performance through the season, but the baseline is very very good.”

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