The factors that helped Magnussen clinch the shock F1 pole

The common denominator in such cases is inevitably rain, plus a perfectly successful team and driver on the day when the usual leaders don’t quite reach their normal level of perfection.

Luck must play a role, but it would be wrong to suggest that luck was the most important factor in Magnussen’s success. His team made all the right choices and the Dane himself had to do the work on the track in tricky circumstances.

This being a sprint weekend, there was a practice session before everyone got into qualifying, and that lack of preparation time probably served as a leveller. Magnussen was an unspectacular 16th in FP1, but his teammate Mick Schumacher was eighth, suggesting there was potential in the car.

Magnussen finished the tough Q1 session in a very respectable seventh place after everyone switched to slicks on the drying track, and he then repeated that result in Q2 to secure a place in the final part of qualifying. . It was no outrageous surprise considering he qualified fifth under similar conditions in Canada in June.

Schumacher showed how easy it is to be on the wrong side of fortune, doing some decent early laps in wet conditions, maybe he was too careful and just didn’t lap fast enough when it was important at the end of Q1, and he was eliminated in 20th.

The Top 10 was already a decent result for Magnussen, but with rain threatening to return as Q3 approached, Haas made the crucial call that was to help him earn pole.

The team wanted him to be at the front of the queue coming out of the pits, to give him the best possible chance of completing a lap on a dry track before the rain arrived.

Having finished bottom of the 2021 world championship, Haas is the last team in the pit lane, and with neighbors Alfa Romeo, williamsAston Martin and Alpha Tauri not taking part in Q3, there were plenty of warnings as the cars started rolling out of their garages just before the green light.

This allowed Magnussen to get out of his garage and park at the end of the pit lane ahead of the two Ferraris and Max Verstappen’s Red Bull.

The fact that one of Maranello’s cars was on intermediates showed how easy it was to get the most basic call wrong in the circumstances.

“We knew the rain was coming,” team boss Gunther Steiner said when asked by Motorsport.com to go out first. “Do you take the risk of going out in the dry, or is it better on the intermediates?

Pole sitter Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team, celebrates with Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport pictures

“It was the decision, but once the decision was made to continue to dry, we knew we had to get out first, because it’s starting to rain, so the sooner you get to the rain spot, the better. .

“So we took that risk and went there. Besides, you don’t want to go out [of the garage] too early, because it might start raining, then you’re on the wrong tire or the tire gets cold. So I think it all worked out really well, because everyone was thinking the same thing.”

Magnussen had to sit at the end of the pit lane for over a minute as his tire temperatures dropped. With a clear track ahead of him, but unsure if he would encounter the first signs of drizzle, he got to work and clocked a perfect first lap to go the fastest.

Ferrari speared Charles Leclerc’s hopes by putting him on the inters, and Sergio Perez’s lap was compromised by getting stuck behind the Monegasque, but seven other drivers had the same as Magnussen.

“Obviously we took the opportunity to be the first there,” Steiner said. “But it’s not that the others were an hour behind us, they were a few seconds behind.

“I think Kevin did a fantastic job, he did a lap and he had no reference or anything, he was alone, the race track in front of him, and you have to do it. I think he did this thing leaving at the right time.”

It was a case of the team and the driver being in perfect harmony and trying their luck.

“If you look at the overall qualifying today, I think we did very little wrong,” Steiner said. “It was very difficult circumstances for everyone, and for the team, for us to always wear the right tyre. And we think we did everything right.”

As the riders headed into a second lap, rain threatened, but there was always the possibility that others could go faster than Magnussen on their second laps. Indeed Perez was particularly fast in the first sector.

Magnussen himself was on a fast-slow-fast schedule, and after crossing the line he was told he had to do a “fast lap” before heading off again. However, after a few turns, and after catching a big slide, he said, “It’s too wet now, qualifying is over now.”

He then asked what position he held and engineer Mark Slade told him, “You’re P1, mate.”

“You kidding, you kidding me,” Magnussen replied.

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-22, in the pits during qualifying

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-22, in the pits during qualifying

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport pictures

So george russell went off in the gravel and pulled out a red flag. The driver and engineer warned each other not to celebrate pole too soon – there was still a chance people could go faster once the action resumed.

However, it took time to recover the mercedes, and as the weather dragged on, the rain began to fall. With 8m10s left on the clock after the restart, it became clear that no one was going to go any faster on the wet track. A pole for Magnussen and Haas was about to become a reality.

“I don’t mean to sound pretentious, but I could see that no one could improve on the ride,” Steiner said. “It started to rain, how are you better this time around? It was pretty obvious to me, it was more like, what else can happen?

“Maybe you could get a black and orange flag now or something, for the bone to be removed again. I went down and checked the front wing and held the FIA ​​to away! I jokingly didn’t do that. But it’s more what you think, what could still go wrong.

“George got out, and it seemed like it took them forever to get the car out. He didn’t want to get out of the car, and things like that. But I was pretty calm about it, because I saw the radar, and it looked like for the next 30 minutes it was raining.”

When the session resumed counting down, there was no hope of anyone going any faster, and Magnussen was confirmed on pole position as he sat in the car in the garage.

“Obviously some people say we got lucky,” his boss said. “But I think we were unlucky, we did a good job and then everything worked in our favor because we were at the end of the pit lane and we used that position. We could have wait to see what others do, not to take risks with the tyres.

“But we knew what we were doing, and then Kevin was there first like I said before, and he had to lay the trick down without having a reference or anything. For him, it was like, go for it.”

Will newly recruited Slade, a veteran of multiple race wins with Kimi Raikkonen and others, play a key role in how things unfold? Certainly to keep Magnussen’s head in the right place.

“I think everything helps,” Steiner said. “I wouldn’t give credit to just one person here, I mean I think the whole team played together, there was never any doubt what we should do, it was decided.

“Obviously keeping Kevin focused is very important in a case like this, because that strategy is not really done by the race engineer, but the race engineer tells him the story of what happens, and if you do it in a good way, the rider has confidence and can do a lap like this, we’re talking about tenths of a second on a wet track, which is hard to achieve.

Poleman Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team, waves from Parc Fermé

Poleman Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team, waves from Parc Fermé

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport footage

“He’s the Kevin we all want to see, I mean, he had a few tough races after the summer break, which he wasn’t comfortable with. But when it counted today, he did what he could do.”

Pole was more than anyone could have expected, and now Magnussen and the team have to see what they can do in the sprint, where priceless points can be bagged.

“Tomorrow hopefully we can stay in the points,” Steiner said. “Obviously we won’t win the race, I mean I’m not dreaming, but you never know. But if we stay in the points that’s the most important thing for us now, we have to be focused to try to keep eighth position in the championship, because it is very important for us.”

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Steiner said he wasn’t worried about it being a sprint pole, without all the hype associated with the main event: “A pole is a pole. I mean, we knew it was a race of sprint, you can’t now be bitter about something you knew was coming.

“For us, being tomorrow in the sprint race on pole, we can score points, and if we do a good job, then we can be in a good position for Sunday’s race. We have both opportunities with a pole. So I think there are negatives and positives.”

Could the rain and a bit of chaos around him help Magnussen in the sprint?

“I don’t want to step forward here,” Steiner said. “I believe in myself, but I’m not arrogant, I’m not a dreamer.

“Obviously we will do our best, as we did today. If the opportunity arises, we try to do a job that allows us to obtain everything that exists and take advantage of it. , but I don’t know if that will happen. But obviously it’s going to be an even better story.”

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