Magnussen ‘can’t believe’ F1 return began with P5

Maria Bright
Kevin Magnussen drives the Haas VF-22 down the pit lane. Bahrain March 2022.

Kevin Magnussen drives the Haas VF-22 down the pit lane during official testing. Bahrain March 2022.

Kevin Magnussen’s dream weekend in Bahrain got “better and better”, qualifying P7 and then crossing the finish line P5 in the race.

Haas have not had a race like that in years – this was their fifth top-five finish – and was a true feelgood story after an unsuccessful 2021 season.

The Danish driver was brought in a week-and-a-half ago and had only a very small amount of time to learn the car for the first race of 2022.

He enjoyed a battle with Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes in the early stages.

Magnussen said to Sky F1: “I was able to get on the outside of him (Hamilton) on lap one. I was focused on being in the lead of that mid-pack crew and I think I did get in the lead after lap one.

“I think I had a few people behind me that were a bit quicker, I think [George] Russell and a Red Bull. Then a couple of mistakes after that with a lock-up where I lost a position and when I was in the lead of the midfield, I just got in the rhythm and kept at that.”

With the drama that unfolded in the Red Bull garage, neither of their cars finishing, it meant Magnussen had a very healthy start to the season by finishing fifth.

“It’s been crazy. I feel as though I keep saying the same thing all week because it’s getting better and better and every time it does – I still can’t believe it,” he said, reflecting on the past two weeks.

“And then getting back in the F1 car, driving out of the garage, qualifying with that result and then nailing it in the race.

“The team deserve it so much. They have worked so hard over the past couple of years and they took a lot of bashing last year because they were focused on this year and got a good result today.”

Magnussen’s team-mate, Mick Schumacher, finished just outside of the points in P11, still a huge improvement from last year.

This is Magnussen’s second comeback to the F1 paddock, following his latest exit in 2020, and according to the Dane it feels better than ever.

“I’m a passionate racing driver and F1 is the best motorsport in the world – best engineers, drivers, teams and best cars. Everyone wants to be there, so if you get a chance you must take it,” he said.

“I got to F1 in 2014, then fell out. Came back in 2016, thought that was unreal, then left again in 2020 thinking that would be it. And now I’m here again finishing in the top five – it’s surreal.”