“Every year we talk about how close it is this year and certainly this year it’s taken a big step again towards being more close,” he underlined.
“So I think it’s not going to be the case that you get to the first race with a car and you see where you are and you stay there the whole year and every race you know you’re fighting for P8 or P9 or whatever.
“This year you’ve got to get everything right to get that the P8 or P7 or whatever is the ‘best of the rest’. There’s one of the midfield teams that’s moved up close to the top and it’s a different grid this year. I think that was what surprised me a little bit.”
The surprise team Magnussen was alluding to is Aston Martin, who has taken a huge leap over the winter with a heavily revised car to bypass the midfield contingent and become a front-running force.
New signing Fernando Alonso has notched four podiums in five races to propel the Silverstone-based squad into second in the standings, above both Ferrari and Mercedes.
Although Magnussen claims Haas made the gains it expected coming into 2023, he asserts the American outfit must target replicating the gains Aston Martin has made.
“We knew we were going to take a step with the car this year and we were confident about that and it shows on the track,” he said. “We do have that performance that we were hoping for. Other teams have just done a really good job, too. So we’re still in that mix of the midfield.
“Of course, we would love to be towards the top, taking a big step like Aston Martin. But that’s what we’ve got to aim to do in the future.”
Having been largely placed in the shade by Hulkenberg through the opening stretches of the campaign, Magnussen out-qualified his new team-mate for the first time in Miami.
Despite repeatedly getting shuffled down the order as the drivers from the top four teams recovered their way through the pack, Magnussen held on to double his points tally for the year.