Haas Formula 1 driver Kevin Magnussen believes his team can bounce back from its poor 2019 and avoid the kind of “big negative spiral” that occurred at McLaren and Williams.
Heading into 2019, Haas – F1’s newest team from 2016 – had looked poised to fight at the front of the midfield, but its season unravelled dramatically and it ended up taking the penultimate spot in the constructors’ championship.
Haas finished closer to Williams’ points tally of one than Alfa Romeo’s total of 57 in eighth place.
But although Magnussen, who scored McLaren’s last podium back in 2014 before Carlos Sainz’s third place in Brazil last year, accepts it’s been “a difficult time” for Haas, he stresses that 2019 marked “the first time that the team has gone backwards”.
He therefore believes it should not lose sight of its previous accomplishments. “The first three years we took big steps forward,” Magnussen told Autosport.
“Maybe it doesn’t look so big, but actually going from P8 in the constructors to P5 in three years is pretty good.
“Toro Rosso, for example, have never finished in the top five.
“They’ve won a race. They’ve got the podium a few times, and they’ve never been in the top five. [Haas’] third year, top five, so that’s bloody impressive. And nobody seems to notice this.
“Generally it’s just been such as pleasure getting to a team that was on the rise rather than on the fall.
“It’s just a much more positive experience – growing, feeling the growth and the improvements, and the excitement that all of this is happening.
“So then this year, we’ve taken a step back and you get that sense of the same feeling happening, people are starting to doubt themselves. But I think there’s no reason to.
“It’s hard to expect to only go forward all the time.
“As long as we don’t get into this big negative spiral that some of the big teams have been [in], like McLaren and Williams, where they’ve completely lost it and just spent many years going backwards – [but] I don’t think that’s going to happen here.
“And that’s part of that’s one of the good things about being such a small and young team.
“We think we can turn the situation quicker and just get back on track. I’m very positive we can do that.”
Magnussen joined Haas from Renault in 2017, and has been retained alongside Romain Grosjean – who has been part of the team’s roster since its debut – for the upcoming season.
Like his team-mate, Grosjean believes Haas can take its disappointing 2019 in its stride, as long as it is honest about its shortcomings.
He said: “We all need to be frank with ourselves and say: ‘Look, what can we do better? Where can we improve?’
“‘[What] was the area [that was] not the best – the drivers, engineers, management, communications? The kitchen?’
“Everyone in the team needs to look at themselves honestly and see what we can do better.
“If we can all do that, we can improve.”