Magnussen sets sights on besting Renault in 2018

Kevin Magnussen says that Renault are Haas F1’s big challenge in the tight Formula 1 midfield battle in 2018.

“Renault is probably the strongest competitor in the midfield,” Magnussen suggested this week. “But I think we have a car that can easily match them – and when we do well, beat them also.

“That should be our aim at the moment: to be fighting those guys.

“At the moment, I think we are very even with Renault,” he continued. “And perhaps a little faster than McLaren, at least in qualifying.

“The rest of the midfield, perhaps, seems a little more inconsistent. But they can definitely be up there with the rest of us on occasions.

Magnussen is currently in tenth place in the drivers championship – ahead of Renault’s Carlos Sainz, but some distance behind Nico Hulkenberg. Renault are currently in fifth place in the constructors standings, with Haas seventh.

“Obviously, we want to improve on last year’s result, which was eighth,” said Magnussen. “And I think that’s a feasible target.

“We’re doing well at the moment, in terms of performance,” he added. “But if we find ourselves in a good position halfway through the season, then maybe we have to reset our goals.”

This year is the first time that Magnussen has started a season at the same team he ended the previous one. That sort of consistency was having a big, positive effect on the Dane.

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“It makes a big difference that I’m with the same team for a second year,” he agreed. “Having that continuity. You have a totally different preparation and some experience to rely on.

“The main thing is that we have a good car, a better car this year,” he said after two back-to-back top ten finishes in Bahrain and Shanghai. “It’s true that we do have a very good car this year – it’s very well balanced.”

Magnussen has a chance to extend that run next weekend in Azerbaijan. Last year’s Baku race was wild and full of upsets, making it a perfect hunting ground for a team like Haas.

“Our car balance should be fine in Baku,” he said. “But it’s going to be very difficult to predict how we’re going to be

“We were pretty uncompetitive at last year’s grand prix in Baku, but we capitalised on other people’s mistakes,” he recalled.

“I’m sure we’re going to be more competitive [this year], and hopefully we’ll be as lucky as we were last year, as well.”

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