RACING

Shine comes from Magnussen’s feel-good return to F1

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Kevin Magnussen celebrating a “Viking return” to Formula 1 with a fifth-place finish in the 2022 Formula 1 season opener has been one of the championship’s healthiest feel-good stories in recent years.

The jubilant post-race scenes of a beaming Magnussen celebrating with his family and a Haas team finally having something to celebrate after a painful and wasteful 2021 season will live long in the memory of any fan of the F1 midfielder.

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But the shine is well and truly starting to come out of Magnussen’s dream return to F1 and there’s an all-too-familiar sense of frustration and missed opportunity.

The Spanish Grand Prix marked the start of upgrade packages for many of Haas’ midfield rivals, but the team stood still knowing that their one and only major upgrade package of the season would not be due until mid-July.

However, that didn’t stop Magnussen from claiming eighth place on the grid and he was challenging Lewis Hamilton for sixth place on the opening lap when the pair collided on Turn 4 right.

Magnussen was trying to round the outside of the seven-time champion who was slowed down to second in his fight with Carlos Sainz in the first three corners.

But Hamilton understeered slightly wide and crushed Magnussen who had left him little room with his ambitious move.

Magnussen had every right to go and the stewards rightly ruled that no further action was needed, but Magnussen went for a high risk decision with a driver who had a much faster car and ultimately lost a point because of this.

Magnussen is a racing driver, so of course he’s going to drive the car in front of him, but you’re much less likely to see other midfield leaders like Lando Norris go overboard and take damage doing so.

As a one-off incident like this sort of gamble is understandable, but Magnussen had just returned from the Miami GP where he was penalized and retired after the second of two collisions with Lance Stroll.

At the Canadian GP he attempted an equally ambitious maneuver – again on Hamilton – and his race was destroyed as a result.

After taking the outside line in Turn 2, Magnussen stayed alongside Hamilton, but the following Turn 3 is a tight right-left section – and Magnussen’s front right clipped the right side of Hamilton’s car .

This only “scratched” his front wing according to Magnussen, but thanks to lobbying from his rivals, the stewards decided to force Magnussen to fight for a new front wing.

“Yeah, I was just talking to [Esteban] Ocon now and he was just joking around telling the FIA ​​it was really bad,” Magnussen said after the race.

“If you know you can influence the FIA ​​like that, you will, right? That’s what he did. Fair play.”

Motor racing Formula 1 World Championship Canadian Grand Prix Race Day Montreal, Canada

Like in Spain where he simply said he hadn’t seen the incident yet, Magnussen was brief and to the point in his post-race responses, dismissing contact with Hamilton Montreal because “it’s the way it is”. .

Magnussen’s anger with stewards showing him the black and orange flag in Canada followed him leading criticism of the Monaco GP’s delayed start.

He said he ‘didn’t really understand’ the decision and when told the reason [concern that the drivers hadn’t driven in the wet that weekend yet] he replied, “That was it? It’s okay, we’re professional riders, it’s not WEC.

In Montreal, Magnussen said stewarding had “felt different” recently, and again referenced the start of the Monaco GP.

Magnussen has understandably posted a more pessimistic figure over the last five races – where a pair of 17th places marks the only time he has crossed the checkered flag.

As Haas falls further and further behind its rivals as understanding of their new upgrade packages grows, there is a real sense of frustration that the team failed to capitalize when they had the car to take it much higher than the ninth place it currently occupies in the constructors’ championship.

Formula 1 World Motor Racing Championship Canadian Grand Prix Qualifying Day Montreal, Canada

The often justified feeling that he is not getting the results he deserves and the frustration of stewards have been hallmarks of Magnussen’s previous six years in F1.

And it seems the harsh realities of F1’s midfield have quickly receded for the Dane, so while his fifth-place finish in Montreal shows he’s still more than capable of delivering destructive results, much of of what hurt his previous stint in F1 threatens to taint his comeback.

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