MONTMELO, Spain — After his first chance to properly follow a rival on track in testing, Haas’ Kevin Magnussen said the early signs are that the changes made to Formula One cars in 2019 will improve racing.
F1 fans have been promised an improvement to the spectacle this season with cars featuring wider front and rear wings as well as modified bargeboards and brake ducts. The motivation behind the changes were simple: to reduce the turbulent airflow behind each car (known in motor racing as ‘dirty air’) which previously had made it harder for a pursuing vehicle to follow too closely without suffering a loss in performance.
The obvious drawback of that was reduced opportunities to overtake and the tweaks are aimed at changing that in 2019, although there are lingering concerns in the paddock that the additional cost incurred by the teams will result in little or no difference to racing.
Pre-season testing resumed on Tuesday at the Circuit de Catalunya and although there have already been a number of eye-catching lap times set, Magnussen was impressed by a short stint behind another car.
When asked specifically about those lap times, he replied: “I don’t know if I’m surprised but it’s good to see, they’re still very, very fun to drive.
“I followed a car today and it really, really feels a lot better than last year. I heard so many people, even guys from here when the car was just in the windtunnel, a lot of people were saying it wouldn’t make any difference.
“Following a car today I felt a big difference — I could actually follow. So it will be interesting to see… I was a lot faster than the guy I was following, the lap that I caught him, I got past him. I must have been around two seconds faster. In which case you also would have passed him last year, but it just felt very, very, different… much better.
“I was behind him for maybe a lap and a half? Something like that. It felt much better than last year.”
Magnussen pointed out that it is too early to say whether the changes will have a noticeable impact beyond his experience in the car on Tuesday.
“The whole car just feels more consistent and stable behind another car. I’m looking forward to seeing if other tracks are the same – there’s always different factors you might have overlooked so you come to another track and it might be different. But first signs are good, I would say, in this following aspect.”
The Danish driver finished with a joke, saying: “Maybe it’s too much… now we have this big rear wing maybe it will be too easy to pass and we won’t see racing anymore!”