Kevin Magnussen Q&A: Abu Dhabi Grand PrixNovember 16, 2022
The São Paulo Grand Prix will be a race weekend to remember for a long time for both yourself and the team, scoring your first pole position in Formula 1, the first time in 47 years since an American Formula 1 team has achieved such feat. With so much action happening during the final F1 Sprint of the season, can you take us back to Friday afternoon and take us on the journey to starting on the front row on Saturday?
“The radar said it was going to rain in Q3 and it was a little bit of a gamble to go out on the slicks but almost everyone else did too. When I knew they were on slicks I knew we were on the right tire. I also knew that it would probably be that first lap that would count. I did the lap, and it was a good lap, but I was obviously surprised that it was pole. Then we had the red flag so we had to wait in the garage and luckily it started raining more so nobody could improve their lap times, so I got pole, but it was a long eight minutes for sure.”
The final round of the 2022 FIA Formula 1 World Championship brings the paddock to the picturesque Yas Island, for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. As well as celebrating the end of the season, it’s also a fitting place to look back over the past 21 races – what have been your standout moments and learnings from your eighth year in the sport?
“The first standout moment was coming back to the sport altogether. Of course, it was surprising at the beginning of the year to even be on the grid. Then to finish fifth and get the teams’ first points in a couple of years was great as well. After that, we had been strong for many races, but I’d say nothing beats that pole position. It’s those three things – coming back to the sport, scoring points in the first race and then getting pole position. Overall, it’s being a part of this comeback for the team into strong competitiveness again, that’s been the main thing.”
A track with a 1.2km straight between Turns 5 and 6 and an array of slow-speed corners always makes for an exciting race. Is this a track you like and do you think there’s a good chance of points to close out the season?
“Yas Marina is a special race because it’s the last one, the atmosphere is special. Obviously the title has already been decided and usually there is a big party here too. It’s quite cool because it’s a night race as well – everything looks very shiny and bright. They’ve changed the track quite a bit and I’ve not driven this layout yet so I’m looking forward to trying that.”
With development of the VF-23 now in full focus, how would you rate this season’s challenger in overall performance and where do you think changes need to be made to be fighting in the top-half of the midfield consistently next season?
“The obvious things that we need to try and improve are power, downforce and weight. Power is out of our hands, it’s in the hands of Ferrari who will surely do a good job on that. We need to put more downforce on the car and make it lighter and improve our understanding of what the car needs from a set-up perspective. That’s going to be a moving target with a new car for next year, we need to really learn a big part of it. It’s the same sort of Formula 1 car, it’s very stiff and very low but I think it’s going to be exciting, it’s always exciting looking ahead to a new season.”
Before we close the book on another 22-race season – is there anything you want to say to the hardworking team – both at track and back at base – as well as the fans who’ve supported Haas F1 Team through a re-emergence in form ready for the future?
“It’s certainly going to be a season that I will remember. Out of my years in Formula 1, this is going to be one of the special ones, coming back to the sport and getting my first pole position. It’s still just amazing that we, such a small little team, are able to pull-off these kinds of results. Not only scoring points and fighting with much bigger teams but also getting a pole position. I think the team has to work much harder than other teams, and I have a lot of respect for that.”