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Formula 1 Canadian GP

Was Magnussen's Canadian GP assessment correct after early heroics?

Kevin Magnussen's wet-tyre swashbuckling in the opening laps of the Canadian Grand Prix injected the early excitement into an already-thrilling Formula 1 race in Montreal.

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-24

From 14th on the grid, Magnussen found the extreme wet tyre particularly potent in the first six laps when the circuit was at its most slippery, and carved his way up to fourth by the end of lap three.

That put him in touching distance of the top three but, as the circuit began to dry out, the crossover point between intermediates and wets began to close in.

In measuring Magnussen's early tours versus those of Oscar Piastri, whom the Dane had passed for fourth, that crossover point arrived on lap six: Magnussen set a 1m34.673s, Piastri a 1m33.060s, which prompted Haas to bring Magnussen in on the following lap for intermediates.

Watch: Canadian GP Race Review - Wet and Wild Vs Cool and Calm

So, one might think that it was the right call for Magnussen to come in - he'd now started lapping slower than the cars ahead. A slow pitstop rather hurt his chances and cost him track position, but he shook out in 13th nonetheless to at least make a position.

"It was looking good," he explained post-race. "We took the right choice on the full wets - but then I think we pitted off onto the inter too early because we ended up having to take another inter. We could have stretched that full wet, to then go on to the inter and stay on it instead.

"On top of that, we had a very slow pit stop. It felt like we had some opportunity there - but didn't get anything out of it.

"We didn't try and take any crazy gamble or anything. We just did what we felt was right for the conditions. And it looked okay, so I think we did the right thing there to begin with but - then didn't back it up with the right decisions thereafter."

Haas tried to go longer with Nico Hulkenberg's stint, and the German hung on until lap 12 having made his own ascent up the field to seventh. After the sixth-lap cross-over, Hulkenberg was lapping between 1-1.5 seconds slower than Daniel Ricciardo behind, before the Australian eventually took back control of eighth on lap 11.

Alex Albon, Williams FW46, Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-24, Logan Sargeant, Williams FW46

Alex Albon, Williams FW46, Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-24, Logan Sargeant, Williams FW46

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

But Hulkenberg was battling a car he noted was "not fully healthy", so it stands to reason that Magnussen might have been able to have gained a few tenths over his team-mate's range of times in the 1m34s. It seemed like Haas had timed its Magnussen stop to limit the damage of the time taken to pit while the field spread was sufficient, but the slow stop cost about five to six seconds and the timing meant that Magnussen needed to stop again under the safety car.

It was expected that rain was due before the race's mid-point, although answering Magnussen's suggestion will be made with the benefit of hindsight. Perhaps hanging it out until lap 15 would have negated the need for an extra stop under the safety car for new inters, that call-in eventually shuffling Magnussen down back to 14th.

Let's take a look at how the wet tyre strategy could have played out, without that seventh-lap stop, and we'll do the same for Hulkenberg and his lap 12 pitstop - although his lap times will require less in the way of extrapolation.

At the end of lap six, Magnussen was 4.76s clear of Piastri. Assuming he could continue at the same pace, Piastri would have needed two or three more laps to mount a pass on pure pace, although the need to back off onto the wet parts of the circuit might have hindered that slightly.

Regardless, Magnussen was not really racing the McLaren driver; this is purely an experiment to determine if Haas could have managed points. Thus, comparing the laps of Ricciardo, Lance Stroll, Charles Leclerc, and Yuki Tsunoda is perhaps more worthwhile as a point of reference.

Here's what we'll do: 'tare' Magnussen at the end of the second lap, and work out the relative gaps of those cars who battled for points at the lower end of the top 10. Next, his recorded lap time from lap seven will be deleted and the delta over his previous lap extrapolated to the end of the lap. He was approximately 0.36s up before the braking zone for Turns 13/14, so we'll take that off his sixth-lap 1m34.673s.

For ease, we'll transpose in Hulkenberg's lap times from lap eight to lap 11; although he was over a second slower per lap than Magnussen, this was due to him spending longer in traffic. By the time Hulkenberg had got up to seventh he was more consistently in the 1m34s after the battling Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton pulled clear, which is much more representative of the wet tyre pace, although his calculated 12th lap is much slower given his weird approach to the hairpin - he.

We'll apply that to his own times but, for Magnussen, we'll instead more steadily degrade his times in line with the drying track performance. It's hard to know what the performance deltas per lap will be, as Pirelli does not so readily supply that information, but estimating is half the fun.

Here's where we are when we build up the lap time picture with conservative estimates for laps 12-15. (All figures in seconds)

Lap Magnussen Ricciardo Stroll Leclerc Tsunoda Hulkenberg
2 (delta) 0 4.291 5.428 7.908 9.01 6.155
3 96.134 100.559 100.688 99.247 99.935 96.651
4 93.993 97.504 97.302 97.813 97.475 95.053
5 94.529 97.388 97.044 96.358 95.882 96.104
6 94.673 96.684 96.655 96.3 96.646 96.178
7 94.313 93.997 93.695 94.541 94.176 96.158
8 94.17 93.341 93.549 93.768 93.491 94.17
9 94.267 92.518 92.85 92.791 92.88 94.267
10 94.671 93.382 92.786 92.094 92.028 94.671
11 94.672 93.504 94.245 94.16 94 94.672
12 94.872 90.514 91.2 93.158 93.494 96.172
13 95.072 90.251 90.255 90.52 90.362 95.072
14 95.272 88.964 89.446 89.171 89.622 95.272
15 95.472 88.743 89.017 88.868 89.266 95.472
SUM 1232.11 1221.64 1224.16 1226.697 1228.267 1246.067
GAP 0 -10.47 -7.95 -5.413 -3.843 13.957
GAP to P1 54.594 44.124 46.644 49.181 50.751 68.551
STOP 79.594 44.124 46.644 49.181 50.751 93.551

Based on the lap deltas, Magnussen appears to fall 10 seconds behind Ricciardo which puts him 13th before his stop - exactly where he ended up after his pitstop. Hulkenberg is a further 14 seconds behind his own team-mate, although this gains him one position and puts him 18th - marginally ahead of Zhou Guanyu. This is all pre-pitstop however and, assuming a 25-second stop, both Haas drivers would end up some way adrift at the back - Magnussen is 79.594s off the lead, with Hulkenberg 93.551s away.

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-24, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL38

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-24, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL38

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

Fresh intermediates for 10 laps would reward them with some lap time, although their real-world pace on fresh inters was not much quicker overall than that of Logan Sargeant's. And, if the plan is to save tyres to ensure they're in decent nick for the second downpour, it's hard to see it changing. So, assuming pace is stagnant, the gaps will remain the same.

However, this is the key bit: how much do they get back from not stopping under the lap 25 safety car?

Three drivers stayed out on the same set of inters during the safety car: Tsunoda, Valtteri Bottas, and Esteban Ocon. Collating an average of their lap 25 times, we get a 'stay out' lap of a 1m52.613s, over 10s quicker versus the pit-in time that the Haas drivers actually managed (2m09.198 for Magnussen, 2m03.974 for Hulkenberg).

But that 10 seconds isn't enough to bring the Haas duo back into play - an end-of-lap 15 stop appears to be too late. The two basically lose a pitstop by staying on the wets for longer as the intermediates are several seconds per lap quicker, and they would need to gain that back plus change for staying out.

What about stopping on lap 12 and staying out under the safety car?

Lap Magnussen Ricciardo Stroll Leclerc Tsunoda Hulkenberg
2 (delta) 0 4.291 5.428 7.908 9.01 6.155
3 96.134 100.559 100.688 99.247 99.935 96.651
4 93.993 97.504 97.302 97.813 97.475 95.053
5 94.529 97.388 97.044 96.358 95.882 96.104
6 94.673 96.684 96.655 96.3 96.646 96.178
7 94.313 93.997 93.695 94.541 94.176 96.158
8 94.17 93.341 93.549 93.768 93.491 94.17
9 94.267 92.518 92.85 92.791 92.88 94.267
10 94.671 93.382 92.786 92.094 92.028 94.671
11 94.672 93.504 94.245 94.16 94 94.672
12 94.872 90.514 91.2 93.158 93.494 96.172
SUM 946.294 953.682 955.442 958.138 959.017 960.251
GAP 0 7.388 9.148 11.844 12.723 13.957
GAP TO P1 34.843 42.231 43.991 46.687 47.566 48.8
+L12 STOP 59.843 42.231 43.991 46.687 47.566 73.8

After his actual stop, Hulkenberg emerged onto the track in 19th place. The lap before the safety car, he was nine seconds behind Bottas who did not stop. Assuming the same gap, albeit one that was compressing as the safety car started to back up the field, Hulkenberg could at best have hoped to sit 16th as the stops shook out, still behind Bottas who ultimately did not register any points.

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-24 battles with Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-24

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-24 battles with Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-24

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

It might have worked out for Magnussen, however; an end-of-lap-12 stop would have put him somewhere between the Saubers, although fresh intermediates might have got him ahead of Bottas and knocking on the door of Gasly. That puts him in Ocon territory when the stops come, offering a shot at ninth or 10th when the race shakes out into its final order.

Perhaps, then, Magnussen has a point - literally and figuratively. Had his stint on the extreme wet been extended by five laps and not hindered by slow pitstops, he'd have likely presented a much more compelling prospect to add to Haas' points tally for the season.

But, to quote Italian celebrity chef and TV personality Gino D'Acampo: if his grandmother had wheels, she'd be a bike. Extrapolating from incomplete data, especially in a wet race, is often folly - but Haas might have been better served to keep Magnussen on the wets for a few more laps...

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