Kevin Magnussen’s roller coaster ride back into Formula 1 just keeps getting better and better, with the Danish driver claiming fifth place in today’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
It’s his best result since 2018, and comes just two and a half weeks after his unexpected recall to the Haas f1 squad following the team’s split with Russian driver Nikita Mazepin in the pre-season build-up.
Despite his lack of time in the car, Magnussen made it through to the final round of qualifying ion Saturday and started today’s race from P7 with a view of clinching some points for the US outfit.
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He not only did that but improved to fifth place by the finish thanks to late retirements for Red Bull duo Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez with technical issues.
It all left the 29-year-old Dane somewhat dazed by how it had all gone. “I enjoyed it a lot, it’s so good to be back in this position,” he told the media in parc ferme after the end of the race.
“The craziness just continues!” he added. “I’m so thankful again. I keep saying this all weekend, that I just can’t believe this opportunity that I’ve got here and got P5 today. Crazy!”
“A massive well done to the team for getting this car into this position,” he continued, having finished behind only the two Ferraris and a brace of Mercedes cars – a huge improvement on Haas’ recent previous performances.
“We were the strongest car in the midfield, I could actually see the Mercedes for almost the whole race,” he said.
“I know we got the safety car at the end, so that helped a little with that, but it was just a different story to in the past.”
Magnussen admitted that his “neck is pretty stiff” after a full race distance but added that it “was better than I thought I would be” after so long out of Formula 1, having last competed in 2020.
“I was worried that I’d be way more tired, but sometimes when you’re in a good position you get some extra energy and I was fine.”
Despite today’s success, Magnussen wasn’t expecting to be chasing race wins and championship titles this season and insisted that they had to remain realistic on what could be achieved.
“We’ve just got to focus on that midfield,” he insisted. “We know that we got lucky today with the two Red Bulls … We were just lucky today with getting four more points than we should have.”
And he was already reviewing the race, saying he should have handled the early stages of the race better than he did, when he repeatedly locked up going into the first corner.
“Looking back I should have just gone easy on the tyres,” he acknowledged. “We had to pit two laps earlier than planned, because I used the tyres too hard.
“It was a hard decision, should I try and keep these people behind?” he explained of battling to stay ahead of George Russell. “It’s a Mercedes, I didn’t know how much faster they were. Maybe I could keep them behind for the stint?
I just started pushing really hard, which wasn’t a good idea,” he said. “But then, in the second stint, we were able to extend that and get back on track.”
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