Guenther Steiner: Kevin Magnussen ‘had the spoon ready’ for stunning Sao Paulo pole

Jamie Woodhouse
Kevin Magnussen, Guenther Steiner, Haas, celebrate shock pole position. Brazil, November 2022.

Guenther Steiner used one of the strangest expressions you will hear as he reacted to Kevin Magnussen claiming a shock Sao Paulo Grand Prix pole position.

Rain dampened the Interlagos circuit ahead of Friday qualifying, although the switch to slick tyres was not far away.

But by the time of Q3, the threat of rain had returned, prompting a dash out of the pit lane as the lights went green, Magnussen the surprise pacesetter in his Haas from that opening round of laps.

“You’re f***ing kidding,” Magnussen exclaimed when told he was on provisional pole and as George Russell prompted a delay by spinning into the gravel and triggering the red flags, that allowed the rain to move in and confirm Magnussen’s first pole position in Formula 1, also a first pole for Haas.

So as “soup” fell from the sky, Magnussen was ready with the spoon, this at least how Steiner described it.

Asked by Sky Sports F1 where this ranks in his motorsport career, Steiner replied: “I think number one, especially now. This is a thing, if you dream about it, you’re scared to dream about it I think.

“We are trying hard, the whole team are trying hard since seven years and then circumstances let us pull this one off.

“And I think it was not luck, it was well deserved from the driver, from the team, being on the right tyres at the right time, Kevin putting a lap down when it was needed. He was first out there, we can say ‘yeah, he has the advantage’, but the disadvantage, he had nobody to gauge with, he was on his own.

“So he put the lap down and it stuck, so it was basically when it rains soup, you need to have a spoon ready and he had the spoon ready today.

“I think he deserves it a lot. The whole team deserves. He’s part of the team. I always say the driver is just part of the team, so I think we always work hard, we never give up, we keep fighting and you will always have naysayers, but welcome to our pole position the naysayers!”

Team owner Gene Haas will celebrate his 70th birthday on Saturday, so it is safe to say Steiner is very happy with the gift delivered to the boss.

Asked if he had spoken to Haas yet, Steiner replied: “No, I haven’t spoken to him yet. I’ll speak with him later – that’s a nice birthday present, okay boss!”

Haas have never really been considered as one of the leading outfits in Formula 1, although with the regulation changes for 2022 and budget cap in place Haas have their sights set on moving up the pecking order.

And Steiner said the team have proven that when the opportunity is there, they can grasp it – which will be a confidence boost.

“That shows you can do it,” said Steiner to the suggestion these are small, incremental steps for Haas. “That gives us the confidence.

“This is down to Gene, who kept believing in us and we delivered when we got the opportunity, so the whole team thanks him obviously for the opportunity he’s given us, and we hopefully can build on this one.

“For sure, we are not getting too excited. Now we are excited at the moment, but we are focusing now tomorrow on the race because we need to make points because we want to keep eighth position in the Championship.”

With this being a sprint weekend, the next stage after FP2 is the 24-lap sprint race to determine the starting order for the Sao Paulo GP.

Put to Steiner that Magnussen now only needs to keep the pack behind for 24 laps to ensure he leads them away for Sunday’s grand prix, he replied: “I think now you’re getting a little too optimistic! Twenty four laps to keep everybody behind will be difficult, but I’m happy with points.

“We don’t need to win the race. If we win it, I’m more than happy but it would be very unrealistic to think that. But as long as we stay in the points, we are happy.”

It was a case of extreme opposites for Haas as while Magnussen will head the field, his team-mate Mick Schumacher is set to be right at the back.

Steiner feels Schumacher was too hesitant on the slick tyres as he dropped out as the slowest driver in Q1, but is hopeful he can progress from there.

“I think he needs to try and get as many positions as possible to start good on Sunday because there are more points at play on Sunday,” said Steiner.

“Today when he went out, I think he was a little bit too hesitant to put a lap down because we just changed to dry tyres.

“But even starting from there, he saw what was possible today. He should say he can do more.”

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