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Magnussen Returns As F1 Testing Resumes

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, March 8 2017

Kevin Magnussen returned to the cockpit for the Haas F1 team in testing in Barcelona on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Haas F1)

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer

Haas F1 Team newcomer Kevin Magnussen kicked-off the second and final week of preseason testing at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya Tuesday by turning a combined 81 laps on a day when veteran Felipe Massa topped the time sheet.

Massa, whose retirement plans abruptly ended in mid-January, posted a lap in 1 minute, 19.726-seconds around the 2.892-mile/4.655-kilometer/16-turn layout in Spain in his No. 19 Williams/Mercedes shod with Pirelli’s Red supersoft tires.

Massa, who has 11 victories and 41 podium finishes in 250 F1 starts dating to 2002, announced last Sept. 1 he would retire at the end of the 2016 season. However, the popular 35-year-old Brazilian returned to Sir Frank Williams’ organization on Jan. 16 in place of Valtteri Bottas when the Finn joined Mercedes-AMG Petronas in place of retired 2016 World Driving Champion Nico Rosberg of Germany.

Massa, who finished 11th in championship points last season, made his F1 debut with Sauber at the 2002 Australian Grand Prix. Massa’s resume _ which includes 16 poles and 1,124 points-scored _ is highlighted by an eight-year stint (2006-13) with Scuderia Ferrari.

Massa racked up 168 laps Tuesday in his FW40, tying him with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, a four-time World Champion from Germany.

Magnussen’s 81 laps computed to 234.291 miles/377.055 kilometers, with his best time of 1:21.676-seconds eighth-quickest overall for the second-year team founded by American businessman Gene Haas.

“It was a decent day again,” said Magnussen, a 24-year-old native of Denmark. “We had some good testing. We had a few small issues we dealt with but it didn’t stop us from running completely. All testing is valuable and we got some good mileage. I have a good feeling in the car and we’re happy with the balance. I’m looking forward to the coming days.”

Starting at 9 a.m. (local time) Magnussen logged nine hours in his No. 20 VF-17 in two sessions, adding 81 laps to his 169-lap total from last week’s opening round of testing for the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Magnussen began the morning session with stock reconnaissance laps runs on the Pirelli’s P Zero Orange hard tire for an installation lap before switching to White medium tires for five timed stints that totaled 27 laps. The final hour of the session saw a change to Yellow softs for two more timed outings. Armed with more grip, Magnussen recorded his best time of the day on his 37th lap to place eighth among the 13 drivers on-track.

Haas F1 Team recorded 33 laps during the afternoon session with Magnussen picking up where he left off, operating on Yellow softs. Magnussen followed with two timed runs on the Red supersoft compound before closing out the day on a used set of softs.

“We had a very productive morning. We learned a lot and we managed to get a lot of laps in,” said Guenther Steiner, Haas F1 Team Principal. “The afternoon was not as good. Still, we learned things but we had a few small problems, which meant we didn’t get the running in we wanted. It’s all part of testing. It’s no big panic. There’s no big issue anywhere. We just had a few small gremlins in the car. We’re learning more about the car and finding out more things we have to look after.”

Haas F1 lead driver Romain Grosjean is scheduled to take over testing Wednesday, with Magnussen returning Thursday. Grosjean completed a session-best 118 laps/341.313 miles/549.29 kilometers around Catalunya in the second generation No. 8 Haas VF-17 last Thursday, easily eclipsing the 56 laps the 30-year-old Frenchman ran during his 2017 on-track debut the day before.

Grosjean is scheduled to be back in the car on Friday for the fourth and final day of preseason testing. The 2017 season-opening Australian Grand Prix is set for March 26 in Melbourne. Practice begins March 24 with qualifying on March 25 and the race on March 26. 

Grosjean and Magnussen combined to run 343 laps last week for a total of 992.122 miles/1,596.665 kilometers. Magnussen, who has replaced Esteban Gutierrez of Mexico in the lineup, logged 169 of those laps (488.83 miles/786.695 kilometers) on Monday and Tuesday, while Grosjean accounted for 174 laps (503.292 miles/809.97 kilometers) on Wednesday and Thursday.

Haas F1 Team became the first American-owned organization to compete in the globetrotting FIA-sanctioned series in 30 years when it made its debut in testing at Barcelona one year ago.

As was the case last season, Haas F1 Team is a technical partner with Scuderia Ferrari, F1’s oldest and most glamorous organization. That arrangement with the factory in Maranello, Italy, includes the power unit, gearbox and mechanical components such as suspension and brake systems on the VF-17.

Teams are continuing to gather data on Pirelli’s new/wider tires. Pirelli’s rubber is designed to augment the FIA’s 2017 technical regulations featuring a drastically different and advanced aerodynamic package designed to create a higher level of downforce. Tires are now 25 percent wider than they were in 2016, with the front tires increasing to 305 millimeters (12 inches) and the rear tires growing to 405 millimeters (15.9 inches).

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, March 8 2017
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