Kevin Magnussen has credited his former Haas Formula 1 team-mate Romain Grosjean with making him a better qualifier as he claimed the Frenchman is “phenomenal on one lap”.
Both Magnussen and Grosjean are leaving F1 after being replaced by rookies Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin at Haas for the 2021 season, with the Dane joining Chip Ganassi Racing to drive a Cadillac DPi in the IMSA Sportscar Championship.
Magnussen and Grosjean spent four years as team-mates at the American team, eventually building a healthy relationship despite being tested by several on-track incidents during the 2019 season.
In Abu Dhabi, Magnussen paid tribute to his now former colleague, saying Grosjean’s one lap pace had elevated his own abilities in qualifying.
“I think what I experienced with Romain is an incredibly fast driver on one lap, not that he’s not quick in the race, he’s super quick in the race as well, but especially in one lap, he is something special,” Magnussen said.
“I think having him as a benchmark, especially in qualifying, has really made me a better qualifier. You seriously need to get it right to beat Romain in qualifying.
“It’s hard to imagine that anyone can be much quicker than him, because on his day, he is phenomenal on one lap.”
Grosjean outqualified Magnussen 12-8 in their first year together in 2017, with Grosjean again beating him 11-9 in 2018.
Magnussen then outpaced Grosjean across the 2019 season 12-7, but Grosjean matched him 7-7 in 2020 before his fiery Bahrain Grand Prix crash forced him to miss the final two races of the season, with rookie Pietro Fittipaldi slower than Magnussen in both the Sakhir and Abu Dhabi GPs.
Grosjean is recovering from the burns on his hands sustained during the crash and taking his time to consider his future options, stating recently that the risks involved with racing on ovals may prompt a rethink of his planned move to IndyCar.
Magnussen believes Grosjean is underrated after facing criticism is recent years for being error-prone.
“Romain has made some mistakes in the last few years that have gained a lot of attention, and I think taken away from him some of the credit he should have been given for his abilities in the car,” added Magnussen.
“My personal feeling is that there’s not a lot of people that can be faster than him on one lap.”
The Autosport 70 special, celebrating the best of motorsport, is no longer available to buy online, but is available to new magazine subscribers. To subscribe, please go to: autosportmedia.com