‘It’s been a real journey’ – Magnussen reflects on whirlwind F1 return that included ‘massive surprise’
Kevin Magnussen is optimistic he and Haas can make more headlines at the start of next season after their recent reunion kicked off in spectacular fashion amid F1’s rules reset.
Magnussen initially raced with Haas from 2017 to 2020, only to lose his seat for 2021 when the team overhauled their driver pairing by bringing in rookies Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin.
However, Haas would part ways with Mazepin shortly before the 2022 campaign began, opening the door for Magnussen – who had spent his year out of F1 racing sports cars – to make a shock comeback.
The fairytale continued at the Bahrain opener when Magnussen qualified P7 and raced to a sensational P5, making the most of Haas’s much-improved VF-22 package – designed to all-new technical regulations.
Assessing his return to F1 with Haas, and how the season unfolded, Magnussen said: “It’s been a real journey. Of course, at the beginning of the year, we were really strong.
“We started the season in Bahrain with P5, and that was a massive surprise, I guess, because the team had been struggling for two years.
“To hit the road [running] like that in the first race was pretty cool. And then, of course, we had a very strong first half of the year.”
After scoring points in three of the first four races, Magnussen would only make the top 10 on three more occasions across the season – Haas’s early pace fading as midfield rivals pushed ahead with car developments.
It meant Haas ended the campaign eighth out of 10 teams in the constructors’ standings, pipping ninth-placed AlphaTauri by two points, though that has not discouraged Magnussen.
“I think some of the other teams, like Alpine and Aston Martin, kind of developed their performance more than us,” continued the Dane, who delivered one more unexpected result towards the end of the season with a maiden pole position in mixed conditions in Brazil.
“But there’s no reason that we can’t catch up [with our development] over the winter and start again like we did [in 2022] next year.”
Magnussen will be joined by a new team mate at Haas for 2023, with Nico Hulkenberg preparing for his own F1 comeback in place of the ousted Mick Schumacher, who has taken up a reserve role at Mercedes.