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Kevin Magnussen: Important for Haas F1 to have evenly-matched drivers

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Kevin Magnussen believes it is important for Haas to have two evenly matched drivers to help push the team on and move up the grid in Formula 1.

Magnussen rejected a deal to stay at Renault in order to join Haas for its second season in F1, replacing Esteban Gutierrez, who failed to score a point through 2016.

Magnussen links up with Romain Grosjean for 2017, the Frenchman having picked up all 29 of Haas’ points last year, including a fifth-place finish in Bahrain.

2017 will be Magnussen’s third full season in F1, having also raced for McLaren in 2014 before being dropped and ultimately leaving the team at the end of 2015 following a year in reserve.

Magnussen’s two teammates in F1 so far have been at varied wildly in terms of experience. At McLaren, Jenson Button was one of the most well-raced drivers in F1, while Renault teammate Jolyon Palmer was a rookie.

In Grosjean, Magnussen has a teammate with plenty of experience and pedigree for 2017, and is confident that he can learn plenty from him at Haas.

“I prefer to have an experienced teammate. It’s good for the team but it’s also good for me, to have someone that I can really learn from,” Magnussen said.

“I learned from Jolyon last year, but I’m sure from Romain I will learn more because he’s an extremely fast racing driver.

“Jolyon is fast as well, but Romain is very experienced.”

Magnussen is anticipating a good working relationship with Grosjean, and believes they will be evenly-matched enough to help Haas and spur each other on.

“I think it’s important to be competitive with each other. I don’t think it’s good for a team that one driver is just having all the points and doing all the work,” Magnussen said.

“It’s good to have two drivers that are quite close. That’s the best way to learn.

“If you have someone who is close to you, for sure he will do some things better than you. If it’s even, you’ll be doing different things good so you can learn from each other.

“That’s what you need in a team.”

Magnussen will make his first on-track appearance for Haas during pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, starting on February 27.

Hartley happy with ‘big progression’ on first day with Toro Rosso

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With 69 laps completed (28 in free practice one and 41 in free practice two) and respectable lap times in both sessions, Brendon Hartley quickly acclimated to a modern day Formula 1 chassis in his first run with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix.

The Porsche factory driver has been drafted into the team following a convoluted series of musical chairs that sees Daniil Kvyat back after a two-race absence, Carlos Sainz Jr. now at Renault and Pierre Gasly racing at the Super Formula season finale in Suzuka.

Over the time in the car today, Hartley experienced changeable conditions in FP1 before a more normal FP2, and discovered the new F1 cockpit after a day learning in the garage yesterday.

“A steep learning curve today! It all went pretty smoothly and I kept the car on track without making too many mistakes, so I’m quite happy,” the New Zealander reflected at day’s end.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from today because I just had so much to learn! I think I made quite a big progression throughout the day.

“The biggest difference from what I’m used to is the high-speed grip, it’s incredible here in Formula 1…it was quite an eye-opener! Another challenge are the tires, which are also quite different to what I’m used to. On the other hand, the long-run looks quite positive and I did a good job managing the tires there – the biggest thing I need to work on now is the new tire pace, and I’ll get another crack at it tomorrow morning before qualifying.

“All in all, I’d say it’s all coming together. We’ll now work hard and go through plenty of data tonight and hopefully I’ll make another step forward tomorrow.”

His best lap was 1.1 seconds up on Friday driver Sean Gelael, the Indonesian Formula 2 driver, in FP1 (1:39.267 to 1:40.406, good enough for 14th) and 1.1 seconds off the returning Kvyat in FP2 (1:37.987 to 1:36.761, good enough for 17th). Interestingly, the Gelael/Hartley combination in FP1 marked the second time in three races that Toro Rosso had a pair of drivers in its cars without a single Grand Prix start between them – Gasly’s debut at Malaysia was the other, when he and Gelael were in in FP1.

Coming into Friday’s running, Hartley said he was more ready for this opportunity now than he had been as a teenager. He admitted he’d called Red Bull’s Helmut Marko in the wake of Porsche’s LMP1 withdrawal news earlier this year to say he was game for any chance that might come.

“I’m a lot stronger than I was back then, basically. I wasn’t ready at 18 years old. I like to think I’m ready now,” he said.

“I haven’t driven a single-seater since 2012, but I like to think that Porsche LMP1 has hopefully prepared me well.”

As for the rest of his weekend, it’s been made more complicated by Hartley being assessed a 25-spot grid penalty, even though Hartley had done nothing to accrue the penalties.

The roundabout sequence of driver changes at Toro Rosso saw Gasly replace Kvyat, Kvyat replace Sainz, and now Hartley replace Gasly, as is outlined by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton below.