Haas F1 driver Kevin Magnussen says he’s been forced to step up his training during the off-season in order to meet the growing physical demands of this year’s cars.

Although there have been no major technical regulation changes since the end of 2019, teams are still finding ways of making their cars go faster this season, and the Dane says the drivers have to be ready for the increased challenge.

“I know that the cars are getting faster and faster,” he told a Danish talk show programme on Tuesday. “And that places more demands on us drivers.

“It takes a lot of fitness,” he added. “When the season starts, it’s hard to keep the muscle mass because we travel so much, so I try to build up so much muscle so that I can afford to lose some of it again.”

But the 27-year-old admitted that he’d allowed himself some time off the training regime over the holidays.

“Right after the season I took a break from it all,” he said according to Danish news agency Ritzau. “I took a breather, and was completely off working out in order to recharge the batteries.

“But I started training again early,” he added. “I have found a nice balance between relaxing and spending some time with friends and family, and training hard. I feel ready.”

Magnussen is certainly hoping for a better season than last year, when Haas slumped to ninth place in the constructors championship and he himself was only 16th in the driver standings.

Problems with the handling of the VF-19 left Magnussen and his team mate Romain Grosjean seemingly all at sea, and the Dane admitted than he needed to be more on top of the technical side this time round.

“I have gained some more technical knowledge, because there has been so much focus on the technical part,” he agreed. “When you focus so much on it and there is so much talk about it, you also learn a lot from it.”

Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas VF-19.

Magnussen also made his intentions for 2020 clear in an interview with Denmark’s BT newspaper. “I am in Formula 1 because my dream is to be world champion. It’s not to get into the top ten.

“I can’t imagine spending all my good years in racing battling for seventh,” he continued. “If I finish in 12 or 15 years and my best result was a second place, I won’t be able to feel particularly proud of that.

“It’s a tough process,” he admitted. “But if I can overperform over a long period of time, hopefully will I get taken to one of the big teams. I have to be consistent until I can open that door.

“There will come a time when I will no longer believe that I can become world champion, but I’m not there yet,” he stated. “I also dream of winning Le Mans and Daytona – but the Formula 1 dream still shines that little bit brighter.”

And Magnussen confirmed one of motor racing’s most enduring axioms – that the first major aim of any driver is to beat his team mate.

“I would be lying if I said that wasn’t true,” he said. “If I can’t even beat Romain, then the big teams are probably not going to look at me, are they?”

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