Kevin Magnussen has returned to Haas displaying a completely different attitude from his latest previous season with the team in 2020, says engineer Ayao Komatsu.
The Dane spent four years with Haas alongside Romain Grosjean from 2017-20, at the end of which both drivers were told their services were no longer required.
Haas needed to save money and were putting all their focus on 2022 and the new regulations rather than 2021, so hired a pair of rookie drivers in Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin who had considerable sponsorship backing behind them.
Magnussen thought, like Grosjean, that would be the end of his Formula 1 career. Both headed to America, Grosjean to race in IndyCar and Magnussen in sportscars.
But in February this year, everything changed due to the situation in the Ukraine and that meant Haas severed ties with the Mazepin family, so Magnussen was recalled to renew his association with the American-owned team.
Although the 29-year-old driver’s recent results have not been good, especially in direct comparison to those of Schumacher, he retains plenty of credit from a strong start to the campaign and has 22 points to the German’s 12.
Komatsu, trackside engineering director for Haas, has noticed a huge shift in Magnussen’s mentality from the dark days of 2020 when a rot in the team’s performance had well and truly set in, having begun just before the halfway mark of the 2019 campaign.
“Kevin’s attitude and mental state is like night and day different from two years ago,” Komatsu, who previously worked for BAR, Renault and Lotus, told Motorsport-total.com.
“He has come back much more mature after this year off. It’s a real pleasure to work with him.
“And he doesn’t even focus on beating his team-mate, he always thinks about the team.”
In the same interview, Komatsu had criticised Schumacher’s attitude at this season’s Austrian Grand Prix where the German had expressed unhappiness both privately and publicly about the Haas team’s strategy during sprint qualifying.
But the Japanese engineer put that down to the duo simply being at different stages of their careers, and six years apart in age.
“Five years ago, Kevin would have been exactly the same as Mick is today,” said Komatsu.
“Young drivers always want to beat their team-mate first. Kevin wants to beat Mick too, of course, but it’s not his first focus. He’s above that.
“Mick just has less experience. That’s why this is not meant to be a criticism of him.
“He’s learning all the time. He’s not slow, but most of all he’s learning all the time. If he sets the right focus and stays mentally strong, he will go a good way.
“And he will learn from his team-mates. Because learning, he’s really great at that.”