Kevin Magnussen and Mick Schumacher secured a double top ten result in qualifying for the Sprint Race in Austria but both Haas drivers believe that they could have extracted more performance out of the VF-22.
The qualifying session started off strong for Magnussen and Schumacher who managed to progress into Q3 smoothly without any issues. The Q3 session, however, presented challenges for the two Haas drivers when two red flags caused by Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell disrupted their momentum.
Nevertheless, the Haas drivers pushed through the qualifying chaos and delivered solid positions with Magnussen in P7 and Schumacher in P8. After the qualifying session, the FIA decided to delete Sergio Perez’s fastest lap time in Q2 because he exceeded track limits by having all four of his tyres over the white line - the Mexican driver who qualified fourth, was knocked down to P13 which moved up Magnussen to sixth and Schumacher to seventh.
Magnussen finished the FP1 session in P6 and said he was confident going into the Sprint qualifying session but believed that they could have pulled out more pace from the VF-22 at the end.
“It’s been a good Friday. We got the car on track for the first run in FP1 and it looked competitive I was pretty confident going into qualifying and it’s been a strong day. I don’t even feel like we got the most out of it, it felt like there was a little more lap time in it. It’s funny as I’m P7 and I’m not super happy, so that’s a very good position to be in,” Magnussen said after the sprint qualifying.
Speaking to selected Media, Magnussen explained that while he was happy to get a laptime completed despite having one deleted, he thought the track limits implemented by the FIA were “annoying” for the drivers to follow and suggested an alternative method be used.
“Yeah, I was confident you know, the car has been great today, in FP1, we immediately put the car on track and, it just looks strong. Then in qualifying, you know, I got a lap deleted and stuff like that it was a bit messy, actually.”
“I think yeah, it's pretty annoying, because the car, you know, it's always it's never great when the cars can actually naturally run wider than you're allowed to. It's nice when, you know, laptime just naturally is lost when you go over track limits because that's much more real and last corner, you know, you have this big kerb, if you go on that you lose time.
“Yeah. So that could easily be the natural limit. But this is how the FIA chose to go ahead. And I don't know it's pretty annoying as a driver.”
Track limits aside, Magnussen revealed that his cold tyres prevented him from claiming a better qualifying result.
“I'm happy I got that lap in at the end, even though I lost three tenths in the first sector, because tyres were really cold.
“So I wish I had that second set for Q3 because then, with a new set, I'm sure P6 or P5 would have been within reach. But tomorrow, we were starting in the in the top eight, in P7. So, these points for the top eight, and hopefully, we can get a point or two and a good starting position for Sunday.
Magnussen endured a setback in Silverstone, not securing maximum points due to a combination of bad luck and choosing the wrong strategy at the end of the race. But the 29-year-old driver remains confident in the VF-22's performance ahed of the Austrian Grand Prix.
“Yeah, I mean, it's, you know, as I always said, you know, this will come it's a good car this year. And yeah, it's looked strong. Ever since the beginning really. And yeah, we've had some tough races and some qualifyings that weren't good, but most times we've been pretty competitive.
"We've just had a bit of bad luck but you know, hopefully, things will turn around and we can start being more regular points going up a year. I want to say at this point in the in the year to still be this competitive it's a little bit surprising. I have to say you know very comforting."
Mick Schumacher’s fastest lap time earned him a ninth-place result in FP1 and unlike Magnussen, the German driver did not feel confident heading into the qualifying session.
“I didn't feel that confident this morning in the car. So, it was still just the from the balance wise, it didn't feel quite there. So, I was actually quite surprised to see that we were that far up. So yeah, it seemed to be not too bad,” Schumacher told selected media.
The 2020 F2 champion, however agreed with his teammate that the VF-22 had more potential left in Q3 to deliver a higher starting position off the grid for the Sprint Race.
“I think it was alright, considering that the session wasn’t quite clean. I think we really, took the maximum amount of it. And I think what we have here is probably just not quite everything, which would have been possible.”
“We came quite close with that Q3 cut-off, so we were lucky there as we didn’t quite maximize the lap but otherwise it was ok, but not the cleanest of sessions. Trying to push the tyres to get them warmed up again is never great, you’re already taking some potential out of them and I think there was definitely more lap time in it. If we hold position tomorrow, we have points and if we move forward, we gain even more so we’ll go for the more points option hopefully."
While the Sprint Race format shortened the amount of time between FP1 and Sprint qualifying for all the F1 teams, Schumacher disclosed that he would have preferred more time to set up the VF-22.
“Yeah, I think that was with the FP1 being as it is, and then the whole format as it is. If I would have had more free practice, I probably would have been able to put the car more in the window where I would have liked it. But on the other hand, it's the same for everybody else. Right. So the starting separately wasn't bad because were quite far ahead, let's say so. I don't see a reason why there's not more to come.”
The Haas team developed a strong challenger this season compared to its 2021 VF-21 version. Now, under the new 2022 regulations the VF-22 has exhibited consistency and reliability after ten races have been completed on the F1 schedule. And both Magnussen and Schumacher shared the same optimistic outlook about the car’s progression and momentum for the reminder of the races left in the season.
“Yeah, I mean, I think we all got to play that happily surprised. So, you know, I'm quite optimistic that even with the update, which we'll get, we will do another step forwards, which I mean, even with the time that we have now should be the case.”
After securing his first F1 points in Silverstone, Schumacher hopes to keep the momentum going by staying focused on the Sprint race.
“I think we all know, a good role hopefully it will be that way tomorrow as well. We have the opportunity to score points tomorrow, which is my primary focus, and then just be in a good position for the race where we then hopefully as well score points.”
Guenther Steiner, team principal at Haas, praised the team for their hard work and hopes they can translate their strong qualifying results to solid points throughout the race weekend.
“It was a very good day today. We started strong in FP1, everything was calm and we had no issues. Then we went into qualifying knowing that we can make it into Q3 on performance and we executed it. It was a good job by the whole team, and hopefully we can take it over to tomorrow’s Sprint, keep on getting points and continuing like last week," Steiner said.