INSIGHT: Kevin Magnussen’s whirlwind 12 months
A 12 months in the past, the information that Kevin Magnussen was set to race within the Rolex 24 at Daytona as soon as once more in 2023 wouldn’t have come as a shock. The actual fact it was going to be in GTD maybe may need been, however much less so once you observed the title Jan Magnussen on the identical entry.
His possible withdrawal attributable to surgical procedure is irritating however comprehensible, as a result of it’s anchored in his should be totally match for System 1 pre-season testing. And that’s the place the turnaround is so wild.
Rewind 12 months and Magnussen was making ready to drive the Cadillac DPi within the January traditional for the second time, and would go on to earn a fifth place as he kicked off his second season with Chip Ganassi in IMSA. It might grow to be his solely outing of the 12 months, as his subsequent journey to Florida – a deliberate household vacation – got here off the again of a name from Guenther Steiner about his availability to return to Haas.
the story. Magnussen agreed, completed an unimaginable fifth in his first race again and scored extra factors subsequent day out in Saudi Arabia. The Dane couldn’t cease beaming, and though these highs couldn’t be recurrently replicated all through 2022, even with a season below his belt the profession turnaround nonetheless feels particular.
“I don’t assume it has worn off,” Magnussen tells RACER of getting one other probability in F1. “After some time, all the truth sinks in that ‘OK, I’m again’, I feel you develop into extra targeted. So in a approach you cease occupied with how superb it’s – if you wish to name that ‘put on off’, that does put on off, but it surely’s not that it’s develop into much less incredible. It’s simply that, ‘OK, you will have a job to do, let’s concentrate on really what the challenges are’.
“To start with of the season, it was virtually like onerous to be skeptical or important about something, as a result of it’s identical to, ‘Ah every thing is incredible!’. And you then begin focusing, so it’s extra like that, it’s not that it’s any much less enjoyable, that it’s any much less incredible. It’s simply extra targeted.”
To make use of his personal phrase, nothing was extra incredible than Friday at Interlagos, when Magnussen’s dream return hit one other excessive as he took pole place for the primary time in F1 forward of the Dash weekend in Brazil.
“It’s loopy to consider. It’s definitely the largest second of my F1 profession, I actually loved it. It was an ideal factor for us as a workforce to complete off the season with such a excessive going into the winter with the reminiscence recent in our minds of a pole place, it’s fairly nice.
“We all know we’re not normal pole contenders however when the chance is there we grabbed it and received pole.”
Regardless of such a surprising second on the finish of the 12 months, it’s not really F1 that makes Magnussen’s story so compelling now. It’s the departure, the time away and the very fact such a proficient driver was glad elsewhere earlier than being handed a possibility he by no means thought he’d get.
“2021 was nice for me, as a result of it was form of identical to, again to fundamentals and getting a possibility to only be a racing driver.
“I did many, many alternative issues, which was enjoyable. I did some some IMSA racing, which was plenty of enjoyable. Did Le Mans with my dad, which was a giant factor. Though we had a s****y race, it was such a giant alternative, it was huge, I felt so privileged to be there – to be on the Le Mans 24 Hour with my dad, in essentially the most aggressive class. We didn’t go in like an beginner class or something, we really went in LMP2 in opposition to some bloody good drivers and groups and did that collectively, father and son. That was superb.
“And I did an IndyCar race! I did some testing with Peugeot in hypercar, I used to be a part of that program which was thrilling too. So I feel I had an incredible 12 months. I grew to become a dad, I moved again to Denmark for the primary time in a decade… Numerous good issues occurred.”
He’s not simply saying it, both. It might be simple to pay lip service to different classes now he’s again in F1, however Magnussen adopted a 22-race season – that he hadn’t been ready for and by his personal admission was not totally match in the beginning of – with a Gulf 12 Hours look alongside his father. After which had the Daytona return plans.
So whereas he admits he has a brand new appreciation of attending to drive F1 equipment and race full-time within the collection once more, Magnussen says that’s not the one factor his 12 months away from the paddock taught him.
“It additionally offers you a distinct perspective of many issues. Like, for instance, how good the drivers are which might be the highest drivers in IMSA and WEC and IndyCar – they’re bloody good. They’re so good. It’s not like System 1 drivers are the one drivers which have this functionality, or degree. There’s plenty of expertise, in order that was additionally very attention-grabbing to see.
“I’m wanting ahead to many issues (after F1 too). Yeah, F1 is the highest degree of motorsport – you’ll be able to’t get round that – however I’m additionally racing driver who simply loves racing automobiles. I feel 2021 actually confirmed that ‘Yeah, I do love racing!’. Not that I ever doubted it, however I actually felt it how a lot I like racing. I suppose that was an excellent factor to have.
“I suppose it form of lifted a few of the strain off my shoulders. A number of the strain that I had on myself has modified. Not that it has gone, there’s plenty of strain of being a System 1 driver – I wish to achieve success in what I’m doing for my very own job and I wish to achieve success right here, that’s my focus – however positive, I do know that there’s a life out exterior of System 1, and that life can also be excellent too.”
As a brand new father, there was a temptation for Magnussen to stay with that life exterior of F1 and get extra time together with his household. However he says his return was really a part of an even bigger image, occupied with the long-term as his daughter grows up.
“It’s definitely onerous being away out of your little one, as a result of there’s plenty of change. You go away for 2 or three weeks, and also you come again, and this little particular person is a distinct particular person. It strikes so shortly, and typically you are worried that you just’re lacking stuff.
“However then again, doing this permits me to have plenty of alternatives after life in F1. Earlier than I received my sponsor as a 15 12 months outdated I used to be working in a manufacturing facility as a welder. And I typically take into consideration how life would have been if I hadn’t received this sponsor concerned, and I most likely would have simply been a welder.
“There’s nothing unsuitable with that, however nonetheless, doing because of this once I’m finished with F1 I can do what I wish to. I don’t need to do something, I can do what need, which is a super-privileged place to be in. I feel it’s essential to recollect to understand that.”