After a tough start to his Formula 1 career, it seems that 2018 might just be Kevin Magnussen’s homecoming in the sport. Despite a dream podium on debut with Mclaren (in 2014) followed by a good string of results through the season, the Dane was asked to relinquish his seat to accommodate the Ferrari-exiting and incoming Fernando Alonso. This meant that Magnussen spent 2015 as Mclaren’s reserve driver only to switch to racing for the returning Renault F1 Team in 2016 where he only stayed for a season. The double disappointments could finally turn into a success story for Magnussen, who is rebuilding his career in Formula 1 with the Haas F1 Team.
In thisÂ FirstpostÂ exclusive, Magnussen explains how continuity with Haas is helping him and the team achieve better, his plans to pursue other racing series in parallel to Formula 1, his dreams of racing with his father Jan – who he believes is the best driver in the world!
After single year seasons with Mclaren and Renault, you finally seem ‘at home’ with Haas.Â How does it feel?
KM: It feels great! I am really enjoying my time here at Haas. It does feel like I have found a home in Formula 1. We have a good, competitive car and I could not ask for more. Of course, I would love to be fighting for wins and championships, but for that, you have to be in one of the top three teams (Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull Racing). So unless you can be there, I think I am in the best place.
Yours is a classic example of how having more experience with a team (and not single seasons) helps a driver deliver better. Tell us more.
KM: Definitely, it really helps having a second year – even now, I am learning a lot. I now realise what a big advantage it is to have continuity with a team because you’ve done it before with those same people. Not only have I learnt about the team, but more importantly, the team has learnt about me. They are hence more equipped to support me with the car that I need. I’ve also learnt what kind of info I need to give back. Basically you just grow with together with the team and as the bond grows closer, it helps performance as well.
When Romain Grosjean and you joined Haas, there was a lot of speculation about whether it was setting you up for a promotion to Ferrari. Do these ambitions persist?
KM: I think it would be foolish to start thinking about those things now because I am in a very good place in my career. The thing I should do is keep my head down and stay focussed. We all dream about racing with Ferrari but we have to let it come if it comes – and until then, stay focussed on the job at hand.
Speaking about another dream of yoursÂ – you have expressed your wish to race in Indy500. Tell us more about that? Could Haas, being an American racing team and having involvement in Motorsport in America, help you make that crossover?
KM: I don’t think that although Haas is an American team, they’re going to help me into an Indycar seat. But no, I haven’t tried, because I am focussed on Formula 1. Also, Haas doesn’t want me to go to another team or change series. They want me here in Formula 1 and I want to be here with Haas. Indycar can wait. I would love to do Le Mans, Indy500, Daytona, races with my dad…but right now, I am just focussed on Formula 1.
You had a break in your Formula 1 journey (2015). Does that make you appreciate more where you are in the sport?
KM: I feel really grateful for the position I have now. Having lost my racing seat and spending a year outside of Formula 1 made me realise that. Not that I didn’t appreciate this before, but when you’ve lost something and then get it back, you realise how much you value it. That was the case for me with Formula 1; while it was tough falling out, I have really enjoyed coming back.
You’re seen as a very cool and fun driver by fans. Tell us about some funny moments you’ve experienced here, on or off the track?
KM: The funniest ones I couldn’t tell you guys, it is not for the public! But I have had a good time. It’s all very serious and focussed in Formula 1 but there is time to have fun too.
Racing with your Dad (former F1 racer Jan Magnussen) has been your longtime dream and you also touched upon it earlier in this interview. Have you done any work to take that forward?
KM: Racing with my dad is something I would love to do. We have always talked about it and maybe we will get a chance sometime. My dad is not that old (44 years) so he has a few years left. That said, Formula 1 is the priority right now. If I can do it without hurting my focus on Formula 1, I would do it.
Coming from a racing family is a different sort of responsibility, one of having to uphold the legacy. How to you deal with it?
KM: The legacy is not stressful for me at all, but it’s something I am proud of. I am especially proud of my dad and what he has done in his career. In my eyes, he will always be the best racing driver in the world!
This post was first published on Firstpost