With Mercedes back to business as usual and not much in the way of excitement, I thought Friday’s Morning After would be a good chance to do something a little different, and offer some thoughts on one Kevin Magnussen.
Set to leave Formula 1 for IMSA after this weekend, the 28-year-old Dane leaves behind a very strange legacy.
Firstly – and feel free to fact check me on this – but his P2 on debut with McLaren at the 2014 Australian Grand Prix might be the only instance of a F1 driver achieving their best-ever result in their first-ever race, excluding one-race wonders. Even if he’s not the only one, it’s an indication of a career that ultimately, failed to live-up to its promise.
The thing is, it’s hard to know how much to blame Magnussen for this. Certainly, you can make a case that the driver McLaren (and F1) thought it was getting when he replaced Sergio Perez at the Woking outfit, wasn’t in there all along given his early teammate battles – losing to Jenson Button 126-55 in 2014 and 72-7 against Nico Hulkenberg at Renault in 2016. However, some of his efforts on Saturdays, not to mention his ability to hold his own against the erratic-but-definitely-not-slow Romain Grosjean throughout his Haas tenure has me thinking he might be a bit underrated.
Either way, I just wonder what would have happened had he been nurtured more in those early stages of his career. For McLaren to position him as their future, only to drop him as they did Perez in order to bring-in Fernando Alonso, would have been absolutely soul-crushing, even if it was obviously the right move for the team. Could he have ever been a world-beater? Probably not, but I feel he probably could’ve been a capable number two for a top team given the right situation and time to develop. Alas, and assuming this is the end of his F1 career, he will be remembered as just another driver, if he is to be remembered at all. I hope that’s not the case, but elite sport – and F1 in particular – can be cruel like that. Sometimes the stars align, and sometimes they don’t.
If you haven’t seen Friday’s onboard of Fernando Alonso in his championship-winning RS25 already, watch it. Not only is it a great watch (and listen), but his approx. 1:42 lap time is only two seconds slower than the fastest lap of last year’s Abu Dhabi GP. Very impressive stuff.
Suffice to say, I think we’ve all had enough of F1 cars on fire for one season. Thankfully Kimi Raikkonen’s in FP2 was, by his own admission, “nothing scary” – just more work for the poor mechanics!
Do you think George Russell misses the Mercedes? From nearly winning the Sakhir GP to 18th in FP2 here. It must feel like he’s in Formula 2 again!