Kevin Magnussen made his Formula 1 debut at the 2014 Australian Grand Prix, this year he returns older, wiser, and dreaming of that elusive podium feeling once again.
The second coming of 30-year-old Magnussen was unexpected, to say the least. After too long in nowhereland with Haas, miserably underfunded at the time, at the end of 2020 the Dane decided to quit F1 and ply his trade in the USA, sportscar racing to be precise.
But with the demise of Nikita Mazepin’s deal dissolved in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war, Haas urgently needed a driver to partner Mick Schumacher for 2022. The American F1 team’s bosses, Gene Haas and Guenther Steiner rang a surprised Kevin, their former driver, who did not take long to seize the opportunity and a second shot in the top flight.
Last season he impressed from the moment he got back on track, easily outshining troubled teammate, Schumacher junior. This year he has fellow veteran, journeyman Nico Hulkenberg to measure up to, and after two races he has had to lift his game.
Heading to Melbourne again, this time a veteran of 143 Grand Prix starts, Magnussen recalled how much he changed since his first F1 race: “Many, many things!
“When I look back, I feel like I was a child back then. It’s basically a third of my life since then and a lot of stuff has happened since. It was a very intense weekend because having your first Formula 1 race weekend in itself is a big thing, a great experience on its own.”
K-Mag: A podium now would mean a million times more than it would back then
“Then, getting on the podium made it that much more special and certainly one of the weekends in my life that I’ll remember forever. A podium would definitely mean more now than back then though.
“Back then, I was in a whole different mindset, as I came from junior categories where podiums, wins and championships were a regular thing. Getting on the podium in F1 was a big thing but it was also something that I almost expected and anticipated, whereas reality showed later on that it wasn’t going to be the norm.
“Now, it would mean so much more because it’s not something I’m anticipating as such – I’m dreaming, hoping and working towards it – but it’s not something we can expect, so it would mean a million times more than it would back then,” admitted Magnussen, in the Haas team preview of the Australian Grand Prix..
As for what makes Melbourne special, K-Mag said: “It’s a special vibe because Melbourne was the first race of the season for many years. It’s always more exciting because it’s the first race, everyone gets to see new cars and because of that it’s a special vibe.
“Australia is an awesome place to go, it’s often just a really nice trip overall,” added Magnussen, no doubt hoping the stars align on Sunday at Albert Park, and he gets a second F1 career podium, 2014 serving as an inspiration to the man who was a child then.