Kevin Magnussen says he is bemused how Haas suffered a sudden race pace drop at the Bahrain Grand Prix compared to the build-up to the race with a lack of grip and straightline speed.

Despite promising practice pace which was converted to a strong qualifying performance with sixth place on the grid, just 0.005s slower than Max Verstappen in the Red Bull, Magnussen says his Haas car felt unstable and slow come race day.

As a result, the Danish driver went backwards through the Formula 1 midfield pack to finish a lowly 13th place – only ahead of Lance Stroll who had damage on the opening lap and the Williams duo.

Magnussen conceded the pace drop came as a complete shock from the first lap with no clear answer to the cause.

“We were just hopeless from the beginning all the way to the end,” Magnussen said. “Very slow on the straights as well so no chance to defend. Pretty hopeless race.

“We were so good in qualifying so the car has to be good for something wasn’t right today and we need to work hard to try and understand what went wrong as we clearly have a good car when its working. It’s pretty worrying to have a day like this.

“I just had no grip. The car just wasn’t working. Wasn’t switched on. Sliding everywhere. Locking up everywhere. Totally different car to what we had in qualifying. Very strange. We were slow right from the beginning. Not like degradation. We were slow from the first lap.”

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Magnussen’s team boss Guenther Steiner has echoed his driver’s sentiments and is eager for Haas to find answers at the first in-season test taking place at the same track this week.

“We have no idea what happened. I actually should be more down, but I’m not even upset because I’m just amazed. More amazed than upset,” Steiner said. “After qualifying we had yesterday and then ending up with the race and not knowing why the pace was just lost overnight, it’s so weird to have no idea.

“On the good side of things, there are two good things, we can test here on Tuesday and Wednesday so at least we have got the chance to try to find out what is happening in the test and to get a good picture of it.

“And on the other side nobody overtook us in the points standing, so at least the damage wasn’t too big.”

Magnussen’s teammate Romain Grosjean will hope to uncover answers to its pace drop on the opening day of the Bahrain test before handing over to junior driver Pietro Fittipaldi on the second day.

 

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