Jolyon Palmer has questioned whether Haas may have thrown away their best chances at points due to early mishaps in the 2022 season.
After a strong start to the year in which Kevin Magnussen scored points at three of the opening four races, the team have struggled more since.
Mick Schumacher is still in search of his debut points in F1, while Magnussen saw his chances of a top 10 finish slip away again at the Canadian Grand Prix following another first-lap incident with Lewis Hamilton.
This was despite the American squad equalling their best-ever qualifying result on Saturday, as Magnussen and Schumacher lined up in P5 and P6 respectively.
Palmer feels Magnussen took too much risk
Palmer believes that Magnussen was to blame for his run-in with Hamilton in Montreal, which marked the second first-lap clash between the two drivers after an earlier incident in Spain.
"In Montreal, Haas had their joint best-ever qualifying, but somehow managed to end up with no points at all, for the fifth race in a row," Palmer wrote in his column for Formula1.com.
"Part of this was due to bad luck for Mick Schumacher, who retired early on with a mechanical failure, but I believe it was also in part down to Kevin Magnussen fighting too hard with Lewis Hamilton at the start, in a move that I’d say was off kilter in the risk vs. reward balance.
"For the second time in four races Magnussen has been running alongside Hamilton, having had a superb qualifying, but both times they have ended in tears for the Dane.
"In Barcelona, I felt he pinched the Mercedes too hard into Turn 4, which provoked contact and pitched the Haas driver though the gravel and out of points contention, despite starting eighth.
"In Montreal on Sunday it was a more subtle touch between the two, but from a more desperate position which damaged the Haas’s front wing endplate and ultimately forced him to pit for repairs after a black and orange flag.
"From behind a Mercedes on the outside into a very narrow chicane, it was a move that never had much chance of success and Magnussen left his foot in too long, risking the contact. It felt a little unnecessary to me."
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Will Steiner be hoping that Magnussen "backs down"?
While Palmer is a fan of Magnussen's style, he has also questioned whether Haas boss Guenther Steiner may prefer his driver to occasionally back down.
"Kevin has always been an incredibly feisty racer," Palmer explained.
"I saw it first-hand even as teammates with him back in 2016, and I've enjoyed watching his racecraft ever since because it's always entertaining and you know he will always give it a go and rarely back down.
"Maybe now, though, Guenther Steiner would be hoping he would back down every so often, because a couple of first lap touches have cost his team a large haul of points.
"With Schumacher still failing to get off the mark in 2022 for various reasons, Haas have fallen down to ninth in the standings, despite having a pretty solid qualifying record and banking early points in Bahrain."
Praise for the fresh dynamic at Haas
Magnussen rejoined the Haas team less than two weeks before the 2022 season got underway, having been brought in to replace Nikita Mazepin.
Palmer thinks that the return of the Dane has provided a positive boost to the team, but remains concerned that the squad – who currently sit P9 in the Constructors' Championship – have lost out on their best chances of scoring points.
"Undoubtedly, re-signing K-Mag has re-invigorated the whole team this year, and combined with having a better car they are looking like a force more comparable to their early 2019 or even perhaps 2018 form, when they were regularly mixing it with the best in the midfield," the former F1 driver continued.
"Magnussen has shown the value of midfield teams in having a pacy, known benchmark in the car, and I’m sure it has forced and helped Schumacher to kick on as well.
"Despite coming under early pressure for some hefty early crashes and having failed to score yet this season, Mick put his car sixth on the grid in a perilous wet qualifying session on Saturday, which was a fantastic effort, and whilst Magnussen’s overexuberance may have cost him points, for Mick it was bad luck with a car failure.
"Overall, the dynamic at Haas is good this year and they are
undoubtedly better than their ninth in the standings suggests at the
"The worry, though, is with these early mishaps they might have lost some of their best points chances, with the likes of Aston Martin recovering form and other midfielders also gaining performance with upgrades.
"They should be safe from Williams in the standings for this year, but if they have ambitions higher up, I feel they'll have to maximise their points more than they have done so far this season."
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