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Why Magnussen is not guaranteed a Haas contract extension

Kevin Magnussen dominated F1 news with his defensive driving in Miami, although not for the reasons he – or Haas – wanted.

Only a few weeks ago, Haas team principal Ayao Komatsu defended Magnussen for his incident with Tsunoda in China. Komatsu argued that his driver was excessively punished for what should have been chalked off as a racing incident. No such defence came last weekend, though, with Kevin Magnussen receiving an unprecedented number of penalties in just two days.

At face value, this is a relatively uncontroversial observation. Although team principals typically stand up for their drivers after incidents, there was no incentive for Komatsu to go out of his way and broadcast what would have been a very unpopular opinion.

Still, this does not mean the internal perception of Magnussen’s various clashes should be discarded.

Nico Hulkenberg’s Sauber contract was a welcome development for the Danish driver. Over the last twelve months, Hulkenberg has established himself as the reference at Haas. This is not to suggest that Magnussen has been completely blown away – but the gap is notable.

Therefore, the 36-year-old’s exit improves the #20 driver’s chances of persisting with the team.

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Haas still undecided on 2025 lineup

Despite this favourable driver market evolution, Kevin Magnussen is not guaranteed a contract extension. As mentioned previously, he is well-positioned. His presence in the team represents important continuity – something that could be especially valuable in the event Oliver Bearman joins.

Still, his continuation at the American outfit is far from settled.

Haas always wait until the second half of the season before confirming their drivers. This approach will persist in 2024, particularly given the abundance of drivers available in the market.

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The Danish driver’s antics in Miami are unlikely to have helped his chances. Indeed, The Race reports that Haas never asked Magnussen to defend Hamilton so aggressively. This is consistent with team radio messages during the Sprint, which did not see Haas call upon the Dane to engage in the extreme type of defence he first displayed in Jeddah.

No shortage of alternatives to Kevin Magnussen

Several names, such as Valtteri Bottas, are available in the market. The Finn is among the free agents who could potentially represent a faster and more reliable alternative to Magnussen.

Of course, the odds generally tip in the podium-finisher’s favour to earn a new contract. He delivered strong drives in Bahrain, Australia and Japan earlier this season – generally delivering what Haas would expect from him.

Crucially, though, Magnussen is also the culprit of several unforced errors. His incident in China and scrappy weekend in Miami (which dominated F1 news headlines) are reminders of the 31-year-old’s unpredictable – and often costly – lapses in form.

In previous years, such offences were less detrimental to his position. After all, Haas is a team whose resources typically limit their influence in the driver market. However, the volume of drivers searching for a 2025 seat could present the American squad with an unusually large pool to select from.

Therefore, Magnussen must brush up on his act. Only by delivering consistent results can he ensure that Haas takes extends his contract.


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