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Ex-Bridgestone man a big factor in Haas performance - Magnussen

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Kevin Magnussen says Haas' hiring back in April of ex-Bridgestone engineer Hiroshi Tomitsuka has been a contributing factor to the US outfit's improved performance this year.

Haas has endured its fair share of bad luck and mishaps this season, but there's no denying the team has raised its game in 2018, its VF-18 allowing the squad to contend for the honorary title of 'best of the rest' in the Constructors' standings behind Formula 1's trio of front-runners

At the end of last year, following a season in which Haas struggled to properly exploit Pirelli's tyres, Kevin Magnussen warned his team that progress would only materialize if Haas brought on board a specialist tyre engineer. And Tomitsuka's presence has dramatically boosted Haas' performance.

"The reason we were keen on someone like him is that the Pirelli is a very complicated tyre," explains the Dane.

"It's a difficult tyre to manage, not only from a driving point of view but also setting the car up with temperatures in the rims and managing the race, strategy-wise, switching the tyres on with your driving style on the outlaps.

“You need someone with experience of tyres to try and understand the Pirelli tyres, because it's not that easy to understand. So it's a really big addition to the team having Tommy-san here."

Tommy-san's insight and expertise has proven invaluable for Haas, especially in a season where teams are confronted with a variety of tarmacs in addition to Pirelli's own extended range of rubber.

"It's certainly a massive advantage having someone to help you understand. With his experience with other tyre manufacturers it's easier to try and understand, you get there quicker," adds Magnussen

"Every weekend it's a new tarmac, it's different temperatures, it's different tyre compounds, different set-up on the car, so you have to re-learn every time, and the tyres behave differently, so having someone there with great experience who just has the kind of eye for tyres is a great help."

Engineering tyre usage and finding the right balance between a car's set-up and compound temperatures requires a blend of knowledge of skill. But Magnussen's team mate Romain Grosjean also underlines Tommy-san's incredible intuition.

"It's crazy what Tommy-San can see just with his eyes, and just looking at the tyres," says the Frenchman.

"For us, if the tyres are too cool or too warm on track, it's the same feeling. Basically, you've got no grip and it's very difficult to tell the engineers it's too cold or it's too hot and the grip is not there.

"So Tommy-san can look at the tyres… [and tell us] what we should do on a quali outlap, which target temperature where we should be aiming [for]. All of that together [means] that, so far, we've been much better using the tyres.

"Obviously, we're still learning about the Pirelli… but it's been a big help for the team."

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