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Magnussen seeking bigger things following shift to Haas

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Kevin Magnussen says he is grateful for the opportunities he has already experienced during his three-year Formula 1 career, but is chasing bigger and better things following his move to Haas for 2017.

Magnussen finished second on debut in Australia with McLaren back in 2014, but was ousted at the end of a tough season to make way for Fernando Alonso.

Magnussen spent a year in a reserve role at McLaren before being drafted in by Renault for 2016 as a late replacement for Pastor Maldonado.

Magnussen scored seven of Renault’s eight points in 2016 as the French manufacturer began to rebuild after taking over the cash-strapped Lotus operation and returning to F1 as a constructor.

Despite being offered a deal to stay at Renault for 2017, Magnussen opted to jump ship to Haas and replace Esteban Gutierrez, who was dropped by the American team at the end of its debut season.

Speaking to reporters during a visit to Haas’ NASCAR shop in Kannapolis, North Carolina earlier this week, Magnussen spoke about the difference in approach he has already noticed compared to that of McLaren and Renault.

“This is a new team starting from scratch. It has a lot of potential,” Magnussen said.

“It can grow a lot and from the starting point. The starting point wasn’t so bad, scoring nearly 30 points in the first year.

“Renault and McLaren are very established teams. McLaren is probably the most established of them two, with massive budget and loads of people and resources.

“Renault, that was a new team, not completely new but the beginning of Renault again. They took over Lotus which was drained of resources. They didn’t have a lot of money and were struggling before Renault took over.

“All three very different experiences I am sure.”

Magnussen said he was grateful for the opportunities afforded to him by both McLaren and Renault in F1, but added that he intends to spend more than a single season with Haas.

“I feel very lucky to get the chance in F1. McLaren supported me very well in my time before Formula 1 and I learned a huge amount there,” Magnussen said.

“Since then I’ve been lucky to have some chances to race in Formula 1. I’ve been with three different teams in three seasons. My intention is to stick with this team a bit longer than one year.

“I’m in a great place right now and I have a really good opportunity to take myself to an even better place with Haas. I’m just really grateful for the opportunity I have right now.”

However, Magnussen does not feel he has anything extra to prove in F1 despite his early-career struggles with McLaren and Renault.

“I feel really good about my situation right now and the place that I’m in right now. Not many get the chance in Formula 1 at all.

“I’ve been with three different teams. I don’t feel so lucky about that, but I feel extremely fortunate to live my dream and go for my target which is to be a world champion in Formula 1 one day.

“I feel I can achieve that dream on the path that I am on now.”

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).