Kevin Magnussen 🇩🇰

China, 2017

Josh Kruse:
Let’s start with something obvious – new team, new challenges, new targets… tell me about those Haas ambitions.

KM:
I think the goal generally in the team is to improve on the result they had last year, which was already a really good result so it’s already a pretty high goal. Haas is a small, but a very efficient team – I am having a lot of fun!

JK:
Gene Haas.

KM:
He’s a good guy, I don’t know him so well yet, I’ve spent a little time with him in America and also times at the track. I’m looking forward to get to know him a little better.

JK:
Romain Grosjean.

KM:
I don’t know him so well yet but obviously I’ve raced him before and he’s very talented and quick. He’s a very good racer.

JK:
Your first memory of motor racing?

KM:
I don’t remember, I think I was two months old when I went to my first Formula 1 race, so I’ve always been to Formula 1 races!

JK:
Your father (former F1 racer), Jan Magnussen.

KM:
Good Dad and a good racer.

JK:
Mixing your school work with being in a racing family.

KM:
I didn’t go to school that much! I was racing go karts and testing nearly every day, so school wasn’t the first priority.

JK:
Your racing heroes

KM:
Stirling Moss and my Dad obviously! But Moss is a real hero of mine, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him and chat with him and hearing of all his amazing stories. A friend of mine at McLaren, who was quite close with Stirling and he set up a lunch with Stirling and his wife, and I went to his house and had lunch there and we chatted about racing. It was great.

JK:
Being talented at more than just behind the wheel…

KM:
I was a welder for about three or four months, and I was lucky enough to get out of it because there was a guy who wanted to support me and pay for my racing. I thought I’d become a welder if my racing career ended. I didn’t know what I was going to do, it was like something else to do when I couldn’t race. I had to do something to earn money, it wasn’t the best experience. Now it’s good to look back and have something to compare with.

JK:
Were you any good at it?

KM:
I hated it! I don’t think I would have done that I have no idea what I would have done. I would have struggled a lot I’m sure.

 

JK:
Becoming part of the prestigious McLaren Young Driver programme.

KM:
Well first of all my Dad was a test driver for McLaren in the 90s and for my third or fourth birthday, Ron Dennis gave me a present like some Lego or something, and he wrote a letter saying that if one day I’m faster than my Dad I should give him a call. Then when I was about 14 or 15, I decided now I’m faster than my Dad so we can get in touch. It was kind of just a long shot just for fun, I was hoping but I didn’t expect anything. Then I went for a meeting at McLaren which was a surprise, and they asked me if I wanted to join their young driver programme, and then I just moved up from there.

JK:
Did you get on track with your Dad to see if you were genuinely faster?

KM:
Yeah, many times. We always when we get the chance go to the track together.

JK:
When did you beat him?

KM:
We’ve been in one situation once in the same race car, his race car actually – a Camaro GT type car – and I was one-tenth faster on Dad. I was about 17 or so, but it meant a lot!

JK:
That first time in an F1 car.

KM:
Amazing. I had looked forward to that for so long, working towards it, growing up dreaming about F1 and suddenly it’s very real and you’re there in the car pulling out of the garage going out on track in a full-blown F1 car in one of the biggest teams in F1, it was a massive experience.

JK:
Your route to F1.

KM:
I raced two seasons in Formula Renault 3.5 before F1. The first one was pretty up and down, basically I won, I crashed, it was either really good or really shit. And the next season was much more consistent, I went with a different mindset and took it easy at the beginning of the season to get the points and get into the lead, then I started pushing towards the end flat out to win all the races and I won nearly the last half of the season.

JK:
The Kevin Magnussen of today compared with the Kevin Magnussen of 2014.

KM:
I wouldn’t say I was completely ready in 2014, at least for that situation that I was in with a big team underperforming. There was massive pressure, I’m sure one of the teams in F1 with the most pressure at that time with the management there, it was pretty tough really, but it was a toughening experience.

 

JK:
Australia 2014 (first race, podium result).

KM:
It was amazing. It was a very big surprise and unexpected, we didn’t think we would be fighting for podiums that year but ended up on the podium in my first race. Driving your first race is a massive experience in itself.

JK:
Working with Jenson Button.

KM:
It was very good, he was a very open team-mate and a very nice guy, I got along with him very well.

JK:
Woking…

KM:
The MTC is amazing but there’s not much else in Woking! I spent time training, and I went back home as much as I could which was even more stressful, because then you’re travelling twice as much than you have to.

JK:
Roskilde (hometown).

KM:
I live in Copenhagen now, but I go to Roskilde a lot because both of my parents live there and the rest of my family. It means a lot and I’m sure I’m going to move back there when I settle down one day and have kids.

JK:
2015…

KM:
It was kind of a pretty shit situation to be in, because it’s frustrating to look at race cars on the sideline and not being able to race, the frustration builds up every race. It made it extra sweet to get back into a race seat in 2016, and I’m in an even better position now.

JK:
The best race of your career.

KM:
Hard to say. I think I’ve had many good races, every time I’ve won it’s pretty good. I’ve had some races where I’ve come from the back to the front, those are the ones that feel the best when you start last and win the race or get on the podium. When you come from the back it’s always special.

JK:
Thank you very much for taking the time to talk with us – best of luck for the season ahead!

KM:
You’re welcome, thank you!

Originally published for crash.net

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