Kevin Magnussen has labelled Sergio Perez’s attempt at an overtake that resulted in contact at the Japanese Grand Prix as a “pretty desperate move”.
Having scored his first point since May last time out in Singapore, Magnussen continued his Marina Bay exploits on Saturday in Suzuka by out-qualifying Nico Hulkenberg for only the fifth time this season.
Magnussen was running 11th in the opening stages when Perez, who was recovering from a front wing change at the end of the first lap, locked up and charged into the side of the Haas at the Turn 11 hairpin.
Perez was hit with a five-second time penalty – his second of the race – before retiring. The Mexican would later reappear back out on track to serve the penalty and avoid getting a possible grid drop in Qatar.
“I just got hit on my rear tyre,” Magnussen explained. “It was a pretty desperate move, but it is what it is. I got spun around and then we had to pit.”
The Dane insists that being pitched into a spin forced him to come into the pits for a change of tyres earlier than he had intended.
Amid Haas’ continuous struggles with tyre degradation with its VF-23 car, Magnussen asserts that the early contact with the Red Bull curtailed his chance of a strong result.
“That was too early for the two-stop strategy and the tyre degradation that we had on our car,” added Magnussen, who was the last classified runner.
“So it made that situation a lot worse by having to pit at that point. It ended our race there – and his as well, of course.”
Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas VF-23 is passed by team mate Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Haas VF-23 after he was hit in the race. 24.09.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 17, Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, Japan, Race Day.
Meanwhile, team-mate Nico Hulkenberg adopted a three-stop strategy but finished only one place ahead of Magnussen as the Hair duo brought up the rear of the field.
“I think I stayed out of the messy part at the start as on the left, two cars ahead of me, there was contact,” Hulkenberg reflected.
“I managed to capitalise from that on the inside line and took three or four cars which was quite nice and rewarding. I then gained one further position from someone else, so it was good.
“We went into the race with a three-stop intention, obviously we’re not the best on tyre management, so I think it was the right call.”
However, Team Principal Guenther Steiner was slightly more upbeat about Haas’ Suzuka showing, citing that he was pleased the side maximised the package it had.
Steiner revealed earlier this month that the American outfit will bring a revised car to its home race in Austin, translating closer to Red Bull’s ‘downwash’ sidepod solution.
“It was a tough race I’d say, but the positive is the team did the best they could with what we’ve got,” the Italian underlined.
“We got close to fighting our opponents, we were on a different strategy with Nico, and it almost worked out. I know almost is not good enough but with Kevin we lost out because of the spin when Sergio Perez hit him, so we fell back.
“In the end, we know it’s tough at the moment, but as long as we keep on delivering with what we’ve got that’s a positive, and when we get a better car, we’ll be there ready to take it.”
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