Kevin Magnussen led Haas to its first Formula 1 points of the year in Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix with a charge to eighth place in damp conditions.
Magnussen joined Haas for 2017 after leaving Renault, but endured a difficult debut weekend with the American team in Australia two weeks ago, qualifying 17th and retiring after an early clash.
Magnussen led Haas’ charge in qualifying to secure P12 on the grid, and was able to negotiate the tricky track conditions well in the early part of the day before settling into a good rhythm in the dry.
Late passes on the Force India pair of Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez lifted Magnussen to P8 at the checkered flag, marking Haas’ first points of the year. It was also the first time a driver other than Romain Grosjean has finished in the top 10 for the team since its arrival in F1 last year.
“It was a good race, I had fun out there. I had a good car all the way through the race,” Magnussen said.
“I’d made a really poor start, so to come back from that and push, I was really happy. The car’s been good today. I was able to look after the front tires, which I think was key, along with working with the team to get the car in the right window.
“The race was really well managed from the team. It was good strategy to get me out on the supersoft after the intermediates. You had to fight for it, in terms of passing. It’s not easy, but you also have grip, so you can take different lines and get close in alternative ways.
“It’s so much more fun when you’re fighting in the points. I’m happy for the team and we’re looking forward to the coming races.”
Teammate Grosjean was unable to bounce back from his Q1 exit and grid penalty, finishing 11th after a luckless race.
“Yesterday was a bit of a joke and today the same guy crashed in front of me on the straight line, so I had to stop. I lost a lot of time,” Grosjean said.
“Then [Marcus] Ericsson at the restart left miles ahead of the car in front of me. I don’t know what he was doing, so I was already on the back foot. [Esteban] Ocon pushed me on the first lap. I lost half of the right-hand side of the car.
“From there I just pushed as hard as I could. I couldn’t really find an opening on [Jolyon] Palmer. Once I did, though, I had some good lap times. We were doing a decent job, but it was already too late.
“It was not easy on strategy. The guys did the best job they could. We saw the checkered flag and the lap times were looking decent.
“I think we had more, but it’s time to look forward to the next race and, hopefully, it’s going to get better.”
Magnussen’s haul of four points lifts Haas to seventh place in the constructors’ championship above Renault, Sauber and McLaren.