Kevin Magnussen has admitted he travelled to Bahrain not completely sure his return to the Haas team would actually go ahead.
That partnership was set to remain intact for 2022 until recent events in the Ukraine, which led to Haas severing ties with their Russian connections of title sponsor Uralkali and driver Mazepin.
Haas therefore needed a racer at short notice and rather than going for someone new to the team who was freely available, they chose to turn back the clock and extract Magnussen from his sportscar commitments – to which he had shifted focus after leaving Formula 1.
After some initial discussions with team principal Guenther Steiner, Magnussen said he had made the journey to Bahrain for pre-season testing with still some doubt over whether the comeback would materialise.
— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) March 10, 2022
“Guenther called me about a week ago and asked me if I would be interested. We talked about things and I pretty quickly said ‘yes, I’m interested, let’s look at this, see if we can do it’,” explained the 29-year-old during an interview with Formula 1.
“Then a couple of days passed and he was sorting some things out, then he came back and said ‘okay, let’s go for it’. Then I had a couple of things I needed to sort out and it only happened in, like, three days.
“It was pretty crazy. When I was on the plane coming here I didn’t even actually know if it was fully going to happen. I signed the contract yesterday and now it’s all done and I’m back in Formula 1.”
When Magnussen exited F1 at the end of 2020, he said he was looking forward to racing with a chance of winning – something which had been less and less the case at Haas as their fortunes plummeted to rock bottom between 2019 and 2021.
There is much more optimism, however, with the VF-22 car, which was created utilising all of the team’s development focus last year due to the sport’s new regulations having been drawn up to try and level the playing field.
“I can clearly feel they are more optimistic than they were in the last couple of years I was with the team, so that’s a good feeling,” said Magnussen, who will get his first taste of the car on day two of official testing on Friday.
“There’s a lot of smiles and jokes. I don’t know anything about this car and I haven’t been part of the development of it, but I have a positive feeling it will be a fun year.
“I’m looking forward to getting to know the car. There are a lot of new systems, new suspensions and stuff I don’t know on this car, so that’s what I’ll spend time doing this week and next – and then we have a race!”