Failed set-up gamble led to Magnussen's radio rant
Haas Formula 1 team boss Guenther Steiner says that an unsuccessful set-up gamble triggered a radio rant from Kevin Magnussen that forced the Italian to step in and tell his driver to stop complaining.
Magnussen started from the pitlane after his huge crash in Q2 led Haas to switch to the spare chassis and a new gearbox, obliging the crew to work late into the night.
Having dropped out of parc ferme the team was free to make any changes it wanted, and it went for a set-up that it hoped would help the Dane to progress up the field.
However the changes didn’t pay off, and having struggled to make any progress in the last part of the race Magnussen was heard saying: “This is the worst experience I’ve ever had in any race car ever.”
Further exchanges were not broadcast, but shortly after Magnussen’s engineer pointed out that the team was also unhappy with the pace and that the crew had been up all night, Steiner took the unusual step of publicly rebuking his driver, saying: “It means that for us it’s also not a nice experience. It’s enough now, that’s what it means. Enough means enough."
Magnussen apologised to the team on the way back to the pitlane after the race, saying: “Guys, I’m sorry, I know you’re just as frustrated as I am, sorry. And the guys in the garage, big apologies, you done great, as always.”
Steiner admitted that the strategy gamble had backfired and left Magnussen with an uncompetitive car.
“In the rebuild of Kevin’s car we tried a little bit of a different set-up, because we could, because of the pitlane start,” he said when asked by Motorsport.com. “Obviously that didn’t work.
“We know now, at least we learned that one. It wasn’t a conscious choice to make the car worse, the choice was to try to make it better, and it didn’t work.”
Steiner said he knew he had to step in as the negative conversation between Magnussen and his engineer continued.
“I said if it comes again I need to say something, then he came again, then the race engineer started to talk and I don’t want an open discussion on the radio, what they think about, they need to stop it," he said.
“You need to be strong sometimes, because I know when to stop them. I know only one can stop them. I know these guys pretty well. They listen, they know it’s enough. If I speak, I have a different view of it, we don’t need to do this on the radio with all you listening and having a good laugh at us.”
Steiner admitted that his main concern was the impact of the negative radio messages on a team that had worked through the night to ready the car.
“Absolutely, because there are a lot of people who are disappointed with how we are doing at the track, and they don’t need to be reminded,' he said. "When you see it once but when it started ongoing, we discussed this long enough, we all know what this is about.
“He apologised to everybody on the radio after the race. It was good. Everybody is frustrated, the guys work until three in the morning and you’re last, it’s not something that motivates you, and you don’t need anymore discussions about how bad it is.
“I was fully conscious and what I wanted to avoid was the guys getting beaten down more than they need to be. He didn’t mean to be critical, and he was just trying to explain a situation, that this was a very bad situation.
“But I’m not blaming anybody. But when you’re on the other side of the radio, you don’t know that, and maybe I could understand it, but the guys do not know because they do not know the proper story, or what is happening.
“He apologised to everybody, like a grown up does, and you move on. There is no point to dwell over it.”
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