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Formula 1 Singapore GP

The V-shaped F1 driving demand that has hurt Magnussen in 2023

Kevin Magnussen has revealed how a specific driving detail in the way his Haas Formula 1 car handles the approach to corners is behind some of his difficulties this year.

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-23

The Dane has struggled at times to get as much out of his Haas as team-mate Nico Hulkenberg, with the American-owned squad itself having endured some ups and downs.

Digging a bit deeper into what has held him back, Magnussen has explained that one of the key factors has been how the VF-23 deals with the entry to and transition through corners.

For Magnussen, his preference as a driver is for what is known as the U-style approach to a corner apex: which is taking a smoother and more rounded line throughout the phases of a turn. This has benefits in helping drivers maintain a higher minimum speed through turns.

To execute this properly, however, a car has to handle well the transition from braking on the approach to a corner and then dealing with corner turn in.

That is something that the current Haas is not good at – as it loses stability when it is asked to use braking and rotational forces at the same time.

Instead, it works better with a V-style approach to an apex – which is where a driver brakes more in a straight line to slow the car down, then has a sharper turn in before they straighten things up and accelerate out.

Magnussen, who is a self-declared “U-man”, says it is a characteristic that he has been focused on trying to address in recent races.

“You can't really combine Gs so much with these cars,” said Magnussen. “I think also a big part of it is the tyres. They don't allow you to combine G, so you can't do a lot of rotation and braking at the same time.

“You have to V the corners more. And that's the two different driving styles: V style or not. There's many different variations of these two, but in broad terms that's what I find, and this year's car on our side is even more vulnerable like that.”

Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team

Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Magnussen says that the transition from driving with a U-style to learning how to be quick with a V-style is not something that can be changed overnight.

He likened the challenge to a golf player needing to change the positioning of his wrist at a certain phase of a swing.

“If you are trying to change the angle of your wrist, just a couple of degrees at an exact point in the swing, the moment is gone, you've done it, and it's very hard to adjust these things,” he said.

“It takes 10,000 hours before you've done it, because it's really something in our central nervous system, and being done very automatically. Often, it's best not to try too hard to change those things, but actually find ways around it.”

Magnussen has explained that rather than trying to focus on changing himself to become wholly a V-style driver, he says that it has been better to get the Haas adapted to suit him more.

“I've changed some things in the car, some simple things, so that my driving style starts to work, and stuff that can kind of allow me to drive more in a V-style in an easy way,” he said.

“My style has been working for many years, and I also think I am a driver who can drive many different cars.

“I've driven sportscars, IndyCars, F1, and it's always been easy for me to adapt. So I think this car, it's unstable in just the worst part of the corner.”

Magnussen also feels that it is better to work through the issues in the real world than try to address it in a simulator.

“It would have to be very, very detailed on what the car is doing in the simulator to actually be able to work on that issue,” he said.

“It's very small details. I think it's easier to work on track, but I don't worry so much about it. I think it's going to come.”

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Haas technical director Simone Resta said this weakness in cars dealing with the U-style approach was symptomatic of the current generation of ground effect cars.

“The more you put downforce on, especially with the regulation change, the more the cars tend to become peaky,” he said.

“So you have good downforce in the centre, with good roll yaws, But the more you push the car, with high yaws, you struggle to pick up the downforce. If you look at other teams, like McLaren, it is almost like the same problem.”

Earlier this year, McLaren’s Lando Norris also said that he had been suffering from the need to have a V-style approach to getting the most out of his MCL60.

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