Kevin Magnussen made a spectacular return to Formula 1 this season, unexpectedly called to race for Haas, the Dane is a transformed man not because of his second chance in the top flight but because he is now a father.
For drivers like Magnussen, their path to F1 begins before long before they are teens as they embrace ‘The Life’ that is mandatory to make it to the top of a gruelling ladder to achieve the dream that hundreds of thousands set out on from the moment they are popped into a kart and the bug bites.
‘The Life’ I all-consuming for these drivers trying to make it into 20 seats on the F1 grid, nothing else matters until it does of course, which in the case of Magnussen was his marriage to Louise Gjørup and the arrival of their daughter last year.
In the latest episode of Beyond The Grid, 29-year-old Magnussen spoke about his incredible year or so since he departed F1 at the end of a miserable 2020 at Haas: “The year I had out, it felt like 10 years! It felt like so much stuff happened.
“When I got back in the car, I didn’t really feel like I’d been out for very long, but when I look at all the stuff that happened outside of the track, it feels like a long time.
“I think having a kid certainly gives you… it moves around all your priorities in life. Like Formula 1 is still super important, but it’s not the most important thing in your life.
“Something else is more important, like your family is more important, like the life outside of F1 related to anything with your family, that life is the most important. Before it wasn’t, Formula 1 was absolutely the most important thing.
“I thought that happiness was one-to-one related with F1 – at least that’s how it felt. If it wasn’t going well on track, my whole life was a misery and it’s not like that anymore. It feels very different.”
Magnussen: It’s way better to just be happy and grateful and not have any fear
Some in motorsport say that becoming a father costs a couple of tenths to your lap times, but Magnussen believes the experience has reset his emotions: “It certainly feels like I am able to enjoy it more. I feel like it’s all just like a bonus, all like just a gift somehow, and I can just have fun…
“Also, I think losing F1, having that slip away and having closed the chapter on F1 fully mentally, then makes it a little less scary now,” admitted Kevin whos is back in F1 thanks to a multi-year deal he inked to drive for them this year.
Also having said farewell to F1 more than once, particularly the second at the end of 2020 time when it appeared more final, the apprehension less powerful and impactful by his reckoning: “You know, I’ve lost it and I felt fine with it and now I’m not scared of losing it. I hope I can have many years in Formula 1 from now on, but I am not scared anymore, and I don’t think it’s good to be scared.
“I think it’s way better to just be happy and grateful and not have any fear. And that’s kind of where I am now: I’m very relaxed and I know what I am able to do,” added Magnussen.
It is fair to say that Kevin has wowed all and sundry with his comeback, although the no-warning nature of the call from Haas it is also apparent that he was not F1 fit for the first two or three races.
Despite this, he delivered stellar performances in a much better Haas than he drove in his last two years with the team. Fifth place in his comeback is an incredible story, considering the circumstances, tailor-made for Netflix. On the sporting side, the last time he scored so many points was in 2018 with Haas.
If Haas can keep the momentum, and Mick Schumacher stops smashing cars, Magnussen is likely to be in there with a shot of a surprise; and he will be much more chilled about his approach to F1.