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Formula 1

The happiest you’ll see an F1 driver who lost seven places

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
3 min read

Few drivers can ever have looked as happy after losing seven places in a Formula 1 race as Kevin Magnussen did following the Brazilian Grand Prix sprint.

Magnussen started from pole position for Saturday’s 24-lap race at Interlagos after starring in a rain-affected qualifying session on Friday.

Magnussen has never led a lap in F1 but that changed after a faultless start in Brazil let Magnussen lead two laps before he inevitably slipped back, falling to eighth.

Post-race he cut an entirely satisfied figure – grinning for the entirety of his debrief with written media – despite admitting that at the time he “forgot to enjoy it really, as I was looking after my tyres and just trying to get into the rhythm, so I didn’t really think about it”.

What he did enjoy, though, was simply starting from pole position. Apart from leading the field away in Detroit last year in his single IMSA season while out of F1, Magnussen has not done that since his Formula Renault 3.5 days back in 2013.

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

And as he pointed out, neither of those were quite the same as this.

“It was great,” said Magnussen. “I really enjoyed it, it was nice.

“Of course, it was very different to back in 3.5 – I knew I had to win the race and I knew I could win the races.

“Whereas here I didn’t really expect that, so I wasn’t really thinking about it.

“It’s a funny thing, we knew we weren’t really fighting for the win although we were on pole position, which is kind of strange.”

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

Magnussen and Haas knew that maintaining this position, or anything close to it, would be unlikely on a bone-dry track, though.

Minimising the time loss and sneaking a point or two by finishing in the top eight was the real aim. Magnussen said that he and the team had to “put all the joy of yesterday behind us for a while” and revel in the memory of it later.

“We weren’t fooling ourselves, we knew that in dry conditions we weren’t going to be able to hang onto it,” he said.

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

“I knew we had a battle to fight further down the field, around P7/P8.

“I got a point, which is very important at this stage in the year against AlphaTauri for P8 [in the constructors’ championship].

“It’s a very tight battle so yeah, happy.”

Haas is trying to seal eighth in the constructors’ championship so, as Magnussen says, every point is crucial.

In fact, it has now literally doubled its advantage over AlphaTauri and given both teams are only ever fighting at the fringe of the top 10 that could be decisive.

“He was well in control, just raced his race, trying to get some points because we need them urgently,” team boss Guenther Steiner told Sky Sports.

“It’s good, we’ve got one more point than a few hours ago.”

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