INSIGHT: Kevin Magnussen’s whirlwind 12 months

A yr 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 very fact it was going to be in GTD maybe may need been, however much less so while you seen the identify Jan Magnussen on the identical entry.

His possible withdrawal as a result of surgical procedure is irritating however comprehensible, as a result of it’s anchored in his have to be absolutely match for Formulation 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 will change into his solely outing of the yr, 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.

You understand the story. Magnussen agreed, completed an unbelievable fifth in his first race again and scored extra factors subsequent trip in Saudi Arabia. The Dane couldn’t cease beaming, and though these highs couldn’t be repeatedly 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 likelihood in F1. “After some time, all the fact sinks in that ‘OK, I’m again’, I believe you turn out to be extra targeted. So in a approach you cease serious about how wonderful it’s – if you wish to name that ‘put on off’, that does put on off, however it’s not that it’s turn out to be much less improbable. It’s simply that, ‘OK, you’ve gotten a job to do, let’s concentrate on truly what the challenges are’.

“At first of the season, it was nearly like onerous to be skeptical or essential about something, as a result of it’s similar to, ‘Ah all the pieces is improbable!’. 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 improbable. It’s simply extra targeted.”

To make use of his personal phrase, nothing was extra improbable 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.

Magnussen’s pole in Brazil was a profession spotlight. Sam Bloxham/Motorsport Pictures

“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 staff 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 regular pole contenders however when the chance is there we grabbed it and obtained pole.”

Regardless of such a surprising second on the finish of the yr, it’s not truly 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 completely happy elsewhere earlier than being handed a chance he by no means thought he’d get.

“2021 was nice for me, as a result of it was type of similar to, again to fundamentals and getting a chance to simply be a racing driver.

“I did many, many alternative issues, which was enjoyable. I did some some IMSA racing, which was loads 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 probably the most aggressive class. We didn’t go in like an newbie class or something, we truly went in LMP2 in opposition to some bloody good drivers and groups and did that collectively, father and son. That was wonderful.

“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 believe I had a tremendous yr. I grew to become a dad, I moved again to Denmark for the primary time in a decade… Lots of good issues occurred.”

He’s not simply saying it, both. It will 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 absolutely match initially 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 yr away from the paddock taught him.

Magnussen’s yr began at Daytona, and he had deliberate to return. Jake Galstad/Motorsport Pictures

“It additionally offers you a distinct perspective of many issues. Like, for instance, how good the drivers are which are the highest drivers in IMSA and WEC and IndyCar – they’re bloody good. They’re so good. It’s not like Formulation 1 drivers are the one drivers which have this functionality, or degree. There’s loads of expertise, in order that was additionally very fascinating 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 believe 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 assume that was an excellent factor to have.

“I assume it type of lifted among the stress off my shoulders. A few of the stress that I had on myself has modified. Not that it has gone, there’s loads of stress of being a Formulation 1 driver – I need to achieve success in what I’m doing for my very own job and I need to achieve success right here, that’s my focus – however certain, I do know that there’s a life out outdoors of Formulation 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 outdoors of F1 and get extra time along with his household. However he says his return was truly a part of an even bigger image, serious about 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 loads 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 generally you are worried that you simply’re lacking stuff.

“However however, doing this enables me to have loads of alternatives after life in F1. Earlier than I obtained my sponsor as a 15 yr previous I used to be working in a manufacturing unit as a welder. And I generally take into consideration how life would have been if I hadn’t obtained this sponsor concerned, and I most likely would have simply been a welder.

“There’s nothing improper with that, however nonetheless, doing because of this once I’m performed with F1 I can do what I need to. I don’t should do something, I can do what need, which is a super-privileged place to be in. I believe it’s essential to recollect to understand that.”

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