K-Mag ‘would welcome a lot more street circuits’

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen has said he would welcome a lot more street circuits to the calendar as opposed to traditional race tracks.

Street circuits have not been the most popular of venues with criticisms varying from boring track layouts to specific locations being devoid of personality and soul which hinder Formula 1’s racing heritage.

But, Magnussen is one driver who actually wants to see more street circuits in Formula 1 as he feels they bring a more exciting challenge.

“I personally love street circuits,” Magnussen said in Haas’ Singapore preview.

“I’d welcome a lot more street circuits on the calendar. I think they’re more exciting and more challenging, as well, because the margin for error is smaller.

“I think, generally, the margin for error is lower at any street circuit.

Speaking about the Singapore Grand Prix specifically, he added: “It’s really a physical race for a few different reasons.

“One, it’s really hot. Two, you don’t ever really get any rest on the lap. You’re constantly working the steering wheel. There’s not a lot of straight line on the track.

“Three, because the average speed of a lap is so low, the race usually goes to the two-hour time limit. It’s the most physically demanding race of the year. As for preparation, I just do my normal thing with my fitness training.

“It is mentally exhausting. You need to be fully focused the whole time – maybe even more than a normal race – because you’re constantly in a corner around the lap.

“Just with it being more physically demanding, it’s more mentally demanding. They go hand-in-hand. It’s a tough race, for sure.”

Magnussen currently sits in a lowly P16 in the World Championship standings with just three points finishes to his name in what has been a pretty torrid season for Haas.

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Steiner: ‘Racing like this kills you’

Haas principal Guenther Steiner admits that the team’s struggles throughout 2019 have been killing him.

This season Haas really have mastered the art of going backwards on a race day, and it’s a trend which they still haven’t found a fix for.

At Monza they recorded their third non-points finish in a row and the team believe their issues may be partly due to an inability to get the tyres into the right operating window.

Both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen have grown increasingly frustrated with their inability to compete during a race, and Steiner admits it’s a very bitter pill to swallow.

“At the moment this is our struggle,” he is quoted by Motorsport.com. “We will try to get solutions to it as soon as possible to see if we can better it. I think we understand, but I don’t know if we can get solutions this year.

“But racing like this, it kills you. Everyone knows how I like to race, and this is something [else].”

Qualifying pace has at times been strong for Haas this season, but for Steiner the frustration comes when all that pace goes away after a few laps.

“You go out with new tyres, the tyres work for two laps then the temperatures go down and you are done again,” he said.

“We are always so on the edge with everything that a little thing happens and we are gone. The drop off is not a tenth or two, it is drop off that can mean a second.

“We are so on the edge that I don’t know where we are. Just track temperature can make a difference for us, being in or out. So we are there or thereabouts or we are out.”

However, Haas’ recent experiments involving sending Grosjean back to the Australia-spec VF-19 have shown that the development throughout this season hasn’t been good enough, so at least Steiner knows now that their problems aren’t 100% tyre related.

“Since two or three races we know pretty well where we are,” he said. “Changing over to the Melbourne spec helped a lot to understand it and get the reality of where we are. That is why it was done.

“The Melbourne spec is as good as this [current] one. We know what that means: we didn’t make any progress, everybody else did.

“In the first year with the new regulations you have to make progress and we didn’t. That is where we are. That is why the car was good for testing and Melbourne and then we stood still.”

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Haas turned down Wehrlein for 2020

Haas principal Guenther Steiner has confirmed that he rejected an approach from Pascal Wehrlein to join the team for 2020.

The German racer made his Formula 1 debut with Manor in 2016 before switching to Sauber for 2017.

He has since competed in DTM and Formula E, but despite remaining involved with Formula 1 as a Ferrari simulator driver, it’s that time away from a race seat that means he isn’t an option as Haas want an experienced line-up for 2020.

Speaking to German F1 podcast Starting Grid, as quoted by Motorsport.com, Steiner said: “He’s been out of Formula 1 for two years now.

“He was at the track a few races ago and he came to visit me and asked me if there was a possibility.

“I said: ‘unfortunately not.’ For the reason that he wasn’t in Formula 1 for two years. We want someone who has experience and has been in F1 for a long time.”

It’s widely reported that either Romain Grosjean or Nico Hulkenberg will partner Kevin Magnussen at Haas next season, and Steiner says a decision should be made “soon”.

“It’s between Nico and Romain, we haven’t made the final decision yet, but it will happen soon,” he told Motorsport.com.

“Romain is definitely good on a good day. But sometimes he has a few days that aren’t so good. That’s the problem with him.”

Steiner wouldn’t be drawn on Hulkenberg’s financial demands to join Haas.

“I don’t want to discuss Nico’s finances – whether he has enough money, whether he wants more. That’s for him to decide,” asserted Steiner.

“It’s not just about finances and the last race. For us it’s more about the team: What have we achieved, what do we want to achieve?”

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Steiner admits Grosjean/ Hulk call isn’t clear-cut

Debating whether to re-sign Romain Grosjean for 2020 or bring in Nico Hulkenberg isn’t a “clear decision” for Haas, so says Guenther Steiner.

While Kevin Magnussen is set to remain at Haas next season, his team-mate has yet to be decided.

Haas have two options on the table: Grosjean or Hulkneberg.

While the former has been with the team since the beginning, his troubles on track, which include several run ins with his own team-mate, have put his race-seat on the line.

As for Hulkenberg, he’s a free agent after losing his Renault seat to Esteban Ocon.

Haas, though, concede it is not an easy decision.

“If it was a clear decision it would be easy to make, we would agree immediately,” team boss Steiner explained to Autosport.

“We’re not sure what is the best, he is not, and I’m not.

“He can always tell me what to do, he’s got that privilege because he finances the team.

“He values my opinion, so we discuss it just to make the best decision for the team, not for us.

“What we’ve got now is not bad, but can we make it better?

“How big is the risk that we want to make it better and it doesn’t go in the right direction?

“It’s a lot back and forward, but at some stage we need to come to a conclusion.”

Steiner added that Haas are not in a rush to confirm their second driver given that Grosjean and Hulkenberg’s options are both limited.

“There is no desperation setting in,” he said.

“The market wasn’t moving a lot this year, there are not big movements going on.

“It is very difficult to decide what to do, therefore it takes a little bit longer.

“It’s not like is ‘he good, is he not good?’

“We know Romain pretty well, and I can see what Hulkenberg has done, so it’s more like what is fitting better in the bigger scheme of the team going forward than the race-by-race result.”

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Hulk or Grosjean: Who do Haas pick for 2020?

Haas seem to have narrowed down the options for Kevin Magnussen’s 2020 partner to Nico Hulkenberg or Romain Grosjean, but who do they pick?

This campaign has been a total write-off for Haas. The VF-19 has been a dreadful race car, sending Grosjean and Magnussen on a slippery slope down the order on Sundays.

2020 must be better for the American outfit, a raceable car would be a solid start, but also very important will be the two drivers in them.

They have held off thus far on announcing Magnussen’s partner for next season, though Haas have stated their reluctance to hire a rookie and instead will either retain Grosjean for a fifth season or reach out to Hulkenberg, who departs Renault at the end of 2019.

Both represent an intriguing option for the struggling team, but who would be the better fit? Let’s analyse some of the key factors behind the decision ahead…

Grosjean knows the team, Hulkenberg can be rather negative

Nico-Hulkenberg-and-Romain-Grosjean-PA

As previously mentioned, Grosjean would be going into his fifth season with the team and having been with them since their debut in 2016, he knows Haas like the back of his hand.

Now, we have seen and heard the Frenchman get rather emotional on several occasions this season, but it’s not surprising because the race woes that Haas have provided no firm answers for would tick off any driver.

Grosjean has been here throughout the highs for Haas – he kicked off their Formula 1 days with P6 and P5 at the 2016 Australian and Bahrain GPs, while he led the way with P4 at the 2018 Austrian Grand Prix with Magnussen crossing the line P5 to score Haas’ best result in the series.

So theory would dictate that Grosjean would be the option more likely to drag Haas back up the order – if they went with Hulkenberg, they risk his negativity following.

The German hasn’t been shy when it comes to calling out Renault for their shortcomings this season – do Haas really want someone like that coming into the team when they are at such a low point? If their 2020 challenger remains a tricky customer, surely Hulkenberg would be more of a destructive force.

Hulkenberg isn’t perfect, but Grosjean is error prone

In keeping with Haas’ difficult season, Grosjean has also made some rather ridiculous errors like his pit-lane crash during practice for the British GP.

We also can’t forget about the habit that he and Magnussen have developed for hitting each other throughout 2019.

It all started in Spain, hit a new level of stupid in Britain where both were forced to retire as a result of the contact, and even in Germany, where all they had to do to score points was finish, they still managed to hit each other but luckily escaped disaster and got the job done.

So signing Hulkenberg may well stamp out these moments of madness, but remember he hasn’t been without error in 2019 either.

Nico Hulkenberg

Take the German GP as the biggest example. Hulkenberg holds that ever-increasing record of most starts in Formula 1 without a podium – 170 to be exact at the time of writing. But, at his home race, the opportunity was glaring at him to end that run and maybe even take his first victory, such was the chaos.

But, Hulkenberg sent his Renault into the barriers as the rain fell, he certainly wasn’t the only one to do it that day, but it was a golden opportunity lost.

Of course when all goes smoothly the Hulk is a force to be reckoned with and arguably he is less likely to drop a clanger at any given moment than Grosjean.

Grosjean and K-Mag’s relationship is strained, but Hulkenberg would bring a new level of tension

He did it, no he did it – that has been the motto for both Grosjean and Magnussen throughout this season as they tried to throw each other under the bus for their various clashes.

It isn’t really the dynamic that you want between team-mates, but Hulkenberg’s arrival would have the potential for disaster.

Hulkenberg and Magnussen aren’t the best of friends. Magnussen’s ‘suck my b****’ comment aimed at Hulkenberg back at Hungary 2017 certainly stung, and even though both drivers have said they are capable of being civil should they be partners for 2020, putting them together is still a risk considering the stress a Formula 1 season can put on team-mates.

Principal Guenther Steiner has grown tired of managing the squabbles of Grosjean and Magnussen this season, so could signing Hulkenberg just be a way of inviting something even worse? Remember though Steiner has said that he has no problems with a potential Hulkeberg/Magnussen line-up.

Grosjean is open to other series, Hulkenberg isn’t

He did say that IndyCar isn’t an option due to a fear of racing on ovals, but Grosjean isn’t against taking his craft elsewhere.

The Formula E series has been one that has caught his eye, whereas Hulkenberg has made Formula 1 his exclusive focus.

For Haas that is significant, do they really want a driver who is having their head turned when the other option is set on staying in Formula 1?

The verdict…

The decision which awaits Haas is arguably bigger than just 2020 – they must look to build for 2021 when Formula 1 is expected to undergo a total overhaul.

And when it comes to a stronger long term option, you have to say that is Hulkenberg.

There isn’t much between them when it comes to age – at 33 Grosjean is just under a year older than Hulkenberg, but the German racer appears more focused on Formula 1.

Grosjean is growing increasingly frustrated with life in the series and, at a struggling Haas team, his outbursts over team radio have painted a clear picture, and it’s probably time for a change for both parties.

Hulkenberg is a risk should Haas’ woes continue into 2020 but, let’s be honest, after this season can it really get any worse?

Jamie Woodhouse

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Haas ‘amicably’ end Rich Energy partnership

Haas and Rich Energy have parted away by mutual agreement, and who didn’t see that one coming.

This season Haas announced British energy drink company, Rich Energy, as their first-ever F1 title sponsor.

It wasn’t long before the relationship soured.

Former Rich Energy CEO William Storey, found guilty of breaching copyright law with the company’s stag logo, went on the offensive a month later as he took to social media to lambaste the F1 team.

As the bitter war-of-words, although all from Storey’s side and leading to his ousting from Rich Energy, continued, Haas insisted they were still sponsored by Rich Energy.

Now, months later, they aren’t.

Haas announced on Twitter the end of the relationship.

“Haas F1 Team and Rich Energy have amicably agreed to end their partnership together in the FIA Formula One World Championship with immediate effect,” said the team.

“While enjoying substantial brand recognition and significant exposure through its title partnership of the Haas F1 Team in 2019, a corporate restructuring process at Rich Energy will see the need for a revised global strategy.

“Subsequently, Haas F1 Team and Rich Energy concluded a termination of the exiting partnership was the the best way forward for both parties.

“Haas F1 team would like to express its thanks and best wishes to the stakeholders at Rich Energy.”

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Hulkenberg, Magnussen open to Haas partnership

Neither Nico Hulkenberg nor Kevin Magnussen have any qualms about teaming up together despite the infamous “suck my balls” comment.

Clashing at the 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix, Hulkenberg approached Magnussen while the Dane was doing a post-race interview.

Hulkenberg called Magnussen the “most unsporting driver” in F1 to which the Haas man replied: “Suck my balls.”

Two years and rumours in the paddock suggest the two could be team-mates at Haas next year.

Asked if he had any issue partnering Magnussen, Hulkenberg told Autosport: “I’d love to see that.

“Honestly, the team-mate is the team-mate. You have to accept them.

“With some you get on, but you don’t have to get on. Maybe it’s better, I don’t know.

“I don’t think that would be a deal-breaker for me.”

As for Magnussen, he says he’s tired of even being asked about the supposed rivalry with Hulkenberg.

“It was dramatised massively, I’m getting really tired of this subject,” he said.

“Between me and Nico there’s really been only once incident in Hungary two years ago. It’s incredible we are still talking about it.

“There’s not many drivers who are friends off the track. We say ‘hi’ to each other when we see each other on the drivers’ parade, but there’s no issue between us.”

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