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Haas Has Huge Day At Testing

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, March 9 2018

Kevin Magnussen of Haas F1 was second fastest during Thursday’s test session in Spain. (Photo by Joe Portlock/LAT Images)

American industrialist Gene Haas gave his third-year Formula One team specific marching orders prior to the opening of preseason testing last week in Spain _ close the competitive gap to Scuderia Ferrari, guys.

Haas F1 Team’s Kevin Magnussen heard the boss and delivered on Thursday at Circuit de Barcelona –Catalunya.

Magnussen’s quick time of 1 minute, 18:360-seconds around the 2.892-mile/4.655-kilometer/16-turn layout was not only his best circuit of the entire two-week test. That hot lap also placed Magnussen second to Ferrari superstar Sebastian Vettel’s quickest time of 1:17.182, as the four-time F1 World Driving Champion paced a field of 13 drivers participating in the week’s penultimate session. Vettel also logged the day’s most laps with 188.

Magnussen, meanwhile, knocked out an impressive 153 laps/442.476 miles/712.215 kilometers in his final preseason test drive of the Ferrari-powered Haas VF-18. It was the highest single-day lap tally for the American-owned organization this preseason, with the Dane besting is own 96-lap mark set during each of his previous two test days. Magnussen recorded his quickest time on his 61st lap while utilizing the Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft tire.

“We had a good day and, overall, I’m pleased with what we’ve done this winter test,” said Magnussen, driver of the No. 20 VF-18. “My time in the car has been valuable and I think we’ve learned a lot. I’m hoping the team will have another good day (Friday), then I think we’ll be in decent shape to start the season. I feel like we’ve ticked the boxes you need to before going racing. We achieved what we had set out to in the program. Now I’m ready to go racing.”

Teammate Romain Grosjean will wheel the No. 8 VF-18 during Friday’s final day of testing for the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship. Magnussen raised his combined four-day testing total to 381 laps/1,102.033 miles/1,773.55 kilometers.

The season-opening Australian Grand Prix on March 25 in Melbourne, Australia, is the first of 21 races in 2018, including the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. 

Haas, team founder and chairman, stated during a preseason interview his team needed to close the competitive gap to Ferrari _the famed and flamboyant Italian organization with whom Haas F1 shares a power unit, gearbox and overall technical support.

“It looks like everyone is going to be better,” Haas said during a wide-ranging interview. “We identified our weak spots and Guenther Steiner (team principal) and I had a good heart-to-heart talk on that one in Mexico City (last fall) about what direction we were going to take and how we were going to improve.

“It’s no secret we use a lot of Ferrari equipment, so we’re using them as our baseline. We need to be within a half-second of the Ferraris in order for us to be competitive. We weren’t last year. I would say we were a second to a second-and-a-half slower than the Ferraris. Overall, we were maybe two seconds off the pole qualifiers, so we need to knock a second off that if we really want to be competitive.”

Ferrari will compete this season with Germany’s Vettel paired alongside 2007 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen of Finland.

Haas F1 Team’s morning run plan started with three installation laps on the White medium tire before three timed stints on the Yellow soft compound, on which Magnussen logged 30 laps. A change to the supersofts brought increased performance over four runs for 31 laps. Magnussen switched to the Purple ultrasoft tire for two, six-lap runs prior to the mandatory lunch break.

The afternoon session began with a 66-lap race simulation. Magnussen started on used supersofts for 18 laps, ran a 33-lap stint on fresh mediums and then donned a new set of softs for the final 15 laps. The day culminated with an 11-lap stint on ultrasofts.

”Our most productive day of preseason testing today,” Steiner said. “We did more than 150 laps and we learned quite a lot about the car. We have one more day to go with Romain. We’ll be working hard to have a day like today.”

Preseason testing marked the debut of all 2018 cars featuring the FIA-mandated “halo” frontal cockpit protection device.

On Wednesday, Grosjean added 78 laps/225.576 miles/363.09 kilometers to the 55 circuits he logged on Feb. 26, the opening day of testing. Grosjean’s quickest time was 1:20.237 on his 25th lap shod on a set of Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tires. While that placed the 31-year-old Frenchman eighth among 14 drivers who turned laps, it was then Haas F1 Team’s fastest time in 2018 testing.

Magnussen began Week 2 of testing Tuesday by logging 96 laps/274.740 miles/442.225 kilometers with a best time of 1:21.298, sixth-quickest of the session. The 25-year-old from Roskilde, Denmark, was eager to build upon his 132-lap total from last week’s test, which was disrupted by a wintry weather mix.

Ferrari’s Vettel set Tuesday’s quickest time at 1:20.396 and ran the most laps, 171.

Haas F1 Team’s totals for the first week were 187 laps/540.893 miles/870.485 kilometers, with Magnussen accounting for 132 laps/381.807 miles/ 614.46 kilometers.

The VF-18 is an evolution of the team’s second car, the VF-17, which carried Haas’ organization to an eighth-place finish in the 2017 constructors standings. Grosjean and Magnussen combined to score 47 points in the VF-17 during Haas F1’s sophomore season, 18 points more than the total earned in the organization’s debut campaign in 2016.

Beyond refinement of the previous car, the VF-18 carries the significant addition of the halo and a drastic reduction in the sharkfin.

Haas F1 Team is based at the same North Carolina campus that houses Stewart-Haas Racing, the championship-winning NASCAR Cup Series organization Haas co-owns with retired three-time champion Tony Stewart.

Founded by Haas in 1983, Haas Automation, Inc., is America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools and the team’s primary sponsor. Haas Automation employs approximately 1,300 at its 1.1-million square-foot/102,000 square-meter headquarters in Oxnard, Calif. Haas Automation exports its machines to more than 60 countries through a worldwide network of Haas Factory Outlets.

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, March 9 2018
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