« For the rest of my career, I will only race with the hope of winning. Whatever I do, I’m never going to do something if I know I can’t win, never again! » That’s what Kevin Magnussen said just a month ago when asked by Racer about his future.
The least we can say is that the prospect of returning to Formula 1 to race in the middle of the pack did not excite him. « No, I already did. I spent seven years [en F1] and I had fun most of the time, but at the sporting level, as an athlete, the position I was in was not rewarding enough »he said.
And yet, here is Magnussen back in the top flight with the Haas team which he knows so well having already spent four seasons there, from 2017 to 2020. The Dane has broken his commitments with Chip Ganassi Racing in IMSA and especially with Peugeot in the WEC to seize the opportunity indirectly presented by the war waged by Russia in Ukraine and the premature end of the collaboration between Haas and its driver Nikita Mazepin.
Motorsport.com did not hesitate to put Magnussen in the face of his contradictions during the press briefing organized for his return to the paddock, and the least that can be said is that the person concerned showed a certain honesty towards -à-vis his remarks of the month of February.
« I think it’s one thing to say all these things when you don’t have an opportunity to go to Formula 1 »comments the Haas pilot. « When you really have an opportunity to go back there, it’s different. It’s also a way to overcome [la déception] : there is no reason to look in the rear view mirror and say that we want to go back. I’ve been asked a lot if I want to go back, and all those questions have gotten on my nerves, so it’s easier to handle if you say ‘no, I’m moving on, that’s fine. ‘is finished’. But when we have an opportunity, we take it. »
Magnussen therefore finds the American team but is clearly not a stopgap: he has signed a multi-year contract with Haas and, above all, has regained the determination that he perhaps lacked during his last two campaigns at the back of the grid. .
« When I left F1, I think I could have stayed there with another team, but it would have been complicated with a lot of sponsors, and I didn’t really have the motivation »he comments. « By dint of riding at the back of the peloton, I was short of motivation. I had only done it for two years, since before, I was in the middle of the table and it was really fun. But These two years have been tough from a motivation point of view. »
« Then I went to do other races, I had podiums, pole positions and victories. It was really fun, I was having fun, then Günther [Steiner, directeur d’équipe] called me and ruined it all! I felt in my gut that I wanted [revenir en F1]. I didn’t realize I missed it so much. » The Nordic states: « When Günther called me, I said yes immediately, then I wondered if it was really smart, before quickly realizing that I had to do it. »
Magnussen only has to get used to the physical demands of Formula 1 again, he who will take to the track on Friday and Saturday during the Bahrain tests. « I think my neck is going to have to come back [au niveau antérieur] because no car is as hard on the neck as a Formula 1, so it’s going to take a while. I’m sure it’ll kill me tomorrow! »