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Formula 1

Magnussen ‘would’ve called bulls**t’ if Haas promised this pace

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
4 min read

Formula 1 returnee Kevin Magnussen joked he “would have called bulls**t” on Haas boss Guenther Steiner if he had claimed the team’s 2022 car would be this fast.

Magnussen has made a shock F1 comeback after being signed to replace the ousted Nikita Mazepin at Haas between the two pre-season tests.

He was one of the stars of Bahrain Grand Prix qualifying as Haas’s pre-season potential proved entirely founded at Sakhir, where Magnussen qualified seventh and team-mate Mick Schumacher narrowly missed out on a first-ever Q3 appearance.

Haas finished last in the constructors’ championship in 2021 as it sacrificed the entire season to put its resources into the brand new technical regulations in place this year.

Steiner was confident that would pay off and when he called Magnussen to offer him the drive in place of Mazepin he shared his confidence with the Dane, who was left with the impression that it was “all quite positive”.

But asked by The Race if Steiner had said this kind of performance would be possible, Magnussen laughed: “I would have called bulls**t!”

Magnussen has outqualified a Mercedes in Bahrain, where Haas was the fourth-fastest team.

Its high-fuel pace in Friday practice and in testing also indicated it could challenge eight-time world champion team Mercedes in the grand prix, too.

Magnussen has been optimistic about the VF-22 since “the first couple of runs” in testing, though.

Motor Racing Formula One Testing Day Two Sakhir, Bahrain

“We knew what fuel we were running and knew that it can’t be too bad,” he said.

“If we can do this with this amount of fuel it’s not a high chance that a lot of people are running more. Maybe some are, but you kind of get a good feeling.

“It’s not like we were going for it and we were still putting strong laptimes.

“It was just hoping and suspicion that it might be quite good.”

And after being cautious of believing the signs its potential was real earlier in the weekend, Magnussen admits it has now been confirmed.

“I was in the car and I saw after the first run in Q2 that I was in front of the two Mercedes,” he said.

“I was like, ‘Yeah, OK’. And I was P4 and it was just crazy.

“Now I believe the car is good.”

Magnussen has banked his best grid position since the 2019 Monaco Grand Prix.

It continues a “rollercoaster” couple of weeks for a man who was supposed to be racing at Sebring this weekend as part of his IMSA SportsCar Championship programme, and gearing up for Peugeot’s top-level sportscar return.

“It’s so strange, all of this,” he said. “I had a whole year, basically 15 months trying to get used to the fact that Formula 1 wasn’t going to be part of my life anymore.

“I kind of got to a good place with that, was happy with the opportunity that I had in Formula 1 and just was able to look back and be grateful and happy about that and still be excited about the future with having a kid and still being a racing driver.

“But then suddenly this just happened, this opportunity with Haas and suddenly back again in Formula 1, in this paddock with my daughter and everything.

“It was so strange all of it and now back in Q3 and hoping for points is kind of crazy.”

This is the highest a Haas will start since Romain Grosjean qualified seventh in the 2019 Brazilian Grand Prix.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Brazilian Grand Prix Qualifying Day Sao Paulo, Brazil

It gives the team a real chance of ending a points drought that stretches to Grosjean’s ninth place in the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix.

Reliability is the biggest threat to that. The VF-22 has suffered many problems in pre-season and Magnussen’s qualifying was impacted by an oil leak in the hydraulic system.

But Steiner said that would be rectified for the grand prix.

“I was hoping for this,” Steiner said of his team’s performance in Bahrain. “That’s what we worked for.

“And I always said in ’22, we will be back, and actually we did it.

“It’s not down to me, it’s down to the team. Everybody believed in the mission, ‘let ’21 go and concentrate on ’22’.

“We had a plan, and we executed the plan. And everybody on the team can be proud of this.”

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