Kevin Magnussen rediscovering his zest for racing in sports cars after getting ‘bored’ in F1

Kevin Magnussen Rolex F1
IMSA
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Kevin Magnussen doesn’t want it taken the wrong way, but his lifelong dream wasn’t that much fun anymore.

In his final two seasons at Haas F1, the Danish driver had four top 10 finishes with a best finish of sixth. Formula One might be the pinnacle of the global motorsports playground, but it had become a dull existence for Magnussen, who had one podium finish in over 119 starts in F1 from 2014-20.

So he took a new ride this season at Chip Ganassi Racing as a full-time driver in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Series.

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HOW AND WHEN TO WATCH THE ROLEX 24: Schedule, TV info, start times, entry lists, more

He needed only a handful of laps over the past week of testing at Sebring International Raceway and Daytona International Speedway to confirm it was the right move.

“The last years in Formula One, I’ve been a little bit bored,” Magnussen told NBC Sports. “I feel super privileged to be able to do what I’ve done, and Formula One has been my childhood dream, and I got to live that. I feel super lucky to have done that, but I can’t deny that I’ve been slightly bored the last couple of years, and it was a real eye-opener those first laps in Sebring in this car.

“The engine just roars. It’s a proper V8 engine, no turbo, no hybrid. Just simple how it should be. That first taste of it was very clear how different it was.

Kevin Magnussen did an interview with NBCSN after leading the first 15 laps of the Motul 100 qualifier at Daytona (IMSA).

“Most important is I’m able to win now. With this team, I’m certainly going to be able to win races and championships, which is really what it’s all about, and that just means I’m way more excited and pumped up about this season than I have been in many years.”

Magnussen, 28, is joining a formidable lineup for the Rolex 24 at Daytona on the No. 01 Cadillac, pairing with two-time defending Rolex 24 overall winner Renger van der Zande and six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon. Both were part of the Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac that won last year.

That makes Magnussen, who came through McLaren’s development program before seven seasons in F1, a relative novice for the first time in years.

He acquitted himself well during the Motul 100 qualifying race, passing the pole-sitting Mazda and leading the first 15 laps before the handoff to van der Zande.

“It’s been really cool to meet Kevin and work alongside him,” Dixon said. “Hopefully he feels welcome on the team. He did a hell of a job at the start of the qualifying race. … We’ve got a great shot, and as Chip always wants, we’re only here to win.”

Though his father, Jan, was a sports car endurance champion with GT class wins for Corvette in the 24-hour races at Le Mans and Daytona, Kevin Magnussen will be facing quite a transition from F1 to the Rolex 24 and IMSA. The longest he has been in a race car is two hours.

Because Ganassi is among three of seven DPi teams that will use three drivers instead of four, he likely will be racing at Daytona for at least three times as long. And there also is the adjustment to new factors of handling and speed.

Kevin Magnussen makes a driver change with Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Renger van der Zander on the No. 01 Cadillac at Daytona. Scott Dixon also will join the team for the Rolex 24 at Daytona (IMSA).

“It’s a big difference; it’s not like I expected this car to be as quick as Formula One car,” Magnussen said. “Slower doesn’t necessarily mean less fun. I’d say quite the opposite.

“A Formula One car is very impressive to drive, but it’s also very kind of easy to drive. I’ve driven many different Formula One cars, and lately, the cars have just become so perfect. Even the slowest car on the F1 grid is driving nearly perfect. It’s just very easy to drive. There are no surprises.

“On top of that, you’ve got the tracks in Formula One that are very big, flat. Same type of curb on every track, there’s a lot of runoff area in most of the tracks. The excitement is wearing off a little bit. You still are competing, that’s the main thing, but when I’m the slowest car, you’re not competing anymore.”

Magnussen, whose family is based in the United Kingdom, has been juggling his Ganassi debut with a hectic family situation, too. He and his wife welcomed their first daughter Jan. 11. The team allowed him to stay a few days longer through the 17th and then rush to the Sebring test because she was born several weeks premature. Though it was “a little bit difficult to leave,” Magnussen said “I know they’re well, and I just can’t wait for (the Rolex) to start as well.

“It’s been a tricky few weeks,” he said. “It’s been an amazing few weeks as well.

Perhaps even more amazing if he can become his family’s first overall Rolex 24 at Daytona winner in his debut.

“My expectations are pretty high,” he said. “I’ve got everything there for me. Two teammates who have won Daytona 24 several times. I’m with a team that has won Daytona 24 several times. It’s all there up for grabs. I’m looking forward to getting it started and hopefully fight for the win.”

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Seattle: Cooper Webb, Eli Tomac overtake Chase Sexton

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Another crash while leading at Seattle dropped Chase Sexton from the top of the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings while solid performances by Cooper Webb and Eli Tomac allow them to climb the chart and threaten to make this a two-rider battle with six rounds remaining in the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross season.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Seattle
Cooper Webb wags his finger at Chase Sexton after winning his heat in Seattle. – Feld Motor Sports

During the race, Webb knew he had ground to make up. Riding behind both Tomac and Sexton early in the Main, he was as far back as fifth on Lap 7 at Seattle. That position would cost him the red plate and give away the advantage he began to build with his first win of the season in Tampa. Sexton is often at his best as he battles from the back and he methodically worked his way through the field. At the end of the feature, he was nearly five seconds off Tomac’s pace, but during the past 45 days, he holds the advantage. A resurgent Tomac that could erase that advantage quickly though.

Tomac struggled in Indianapolis with a neck strain. That contributed to his worst performance of 2023 and his second result outside the top five. He finished third in Detroit two weeks ago, but it was a distant third after finishing off the podium in his heat during that round. In Seattle, it appeared the same thing might happen when Tomac finished third in the prelim behind his two principal competitors Webb and Sexton. The Main was a different story.

Tomac dropped to fourth in the opening laps behind both of his rivals early in the race, but he got around Webb on Lap 2 and kept charging. When Sexton fell to the ground on Lap 11 and dropped to fourth, Tomac was in position to strike. He scored his sixth win of the season to tie James Stewart for second on the all-time wins list. He now shares the red plate with Webb as the rounds wind down.

MORE: Eli Tomac gets rebound win in Seattle

Sexton has the speed, but he lacks the seasoning of Webb and Tomac. He’s pressing hard on every lap and that has bitten him several times this year. Sexton’s mistakes are costing him with a 10th-place finish at Indy, the loss of seven points at Detroit and a fifth in Seattle as the riders he’s battling stood on the podium. No one seriously questions Sexton’s talent or speed, but ultimately the results are what counts.

Justin Barcia is hitting his stride. He advances two positions this week after scoring his fourth consecutive top-five and second podium in that span of races. Barcia finished between sixth and eighth in five consecutive rounds from Anaheim 2 through Arlington, but he’s mostly avoided controversy and that puts him fourth in this week’s SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Seattle.

Jason Anderson had a solid performance in Seattle, but with a fifth-place finish in his heat and fourth in the Main he just keeps losing a little ground to the leaders. The biggest impact to his standing in the NBC Power Rankings is a 10th-place finish in Indianapolis that will take a while to age out of the 45-day formula. He’s tied for fourth in the championship points with Ken Roczen, who sits sixth in the rankings below. It’s important to be the rider “best in class” with Webb, Tomac and Sexton stealing the show.

450 Rankings

This
Week
Rider Power
Avg.
Last
Week
Diff.
1. Cooper Webb 87.77 2 1
2. Eli Tomac 86.23 3 1
3. Chase Sexton 85.77 1 -2
4. Justin Barcia 80.71 6 2
5. Jason Anderson 80.69 4 -1
6. Ken Roczen 80.46 5 -1
7. Aaron Plessinger 75.86 7 0
8. Adam Cianciarulo 71.13 8 0
9. Christian Craig 69.86 9 0
10. Justin Cooper 62.88 10 0
11. Justin Hill 59.86 11 0
12. Dean Wilson 52.86 12 0
13. Josh Hill 49.00 15 2
14. Colt Nichols 48.67 13 -1
15. Shane McElrath 45.62 14 -1
16. Benny Bloss 43.00 16 0
17. Grant Harlan 38.08 20 3
18. Max Miller 37.67 24 6
19. Lane Shaw 36.67 21 2
20. Cade Clason 34.67 19 -1

Supercross 450 Points


The 250 West riders were back in action in Seattle and that gave Jett Lawrence the opportunity to break out of a tie with his brother Hunter Lawrence on the all-time wins list. It also provided Jett the opportunity to take back the top spot in the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Seattle.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Seattle
Jett Lawrence regained the top spot overall in the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings with a near-perfect race in Seattle. – Feld Motor Sports

Jett has stood on the podium in every race this year with the exception of the second Triple Crown race at Anaheim 2 and that level of perfection gives him bragging rights. Rest assured that while the two brothers have a bond that is unapparelled in motorsports, there is no one they would rather beat. Neither has been particularly successful in Triple Crown rounds this year, however, and Jett could lose his advantage in two weeks in Glendale, Arizona under that format.

Lawrence is now two wins away from capturing the fourth-most wins at this level.

A rivalry is developing between Lawrence and Cameron McAdoo. Tired of losing to the affable Australian, McAdoo pushed the envelope last week in Seattle. He crowded Lawrence in the whoops during their heat race and sent both to the ground. That frustration could bubble over with four rounds remaining. One thing is certain, when these two riders are in proximity on the track, the cameras will be aimed in their direction.

Supercross 250 Points

A little means a lot this season. Finishing second to Lawrence in four of five rounds, RJ Hampshire would be losing ground to the leader no matter what, but an 11th-place finish in the overall at Anaheim 2 places him eighth on the chart below behind two of the 250 West riders and five 250 East competitors.

In the mains, Levi Kitchen has been all over the board with a win, one more top-five, two results on the high side of the single digits and a crash-induced 21st at San Diego. He’s really shown his speed in the heats, however, with a perfect record of top-fives and a win.

Mitchell Oldenburg makes the top five list among West riders with a perfect record of top-10 finishes. He’s heading in the wrong direction, however, falling from ninth overall to 11th after finishing outside the top five in both his heat and the Main last week.

250 Rankings

This
Week
Rider Power
Avg.
Last
Week
Diff,
1. Jett Lawrence – W 90.75 2 1
2. Hunter Lawrence – E 90.43 1 -1
3. Nate Thrasher – E 84.00 3 0
4. Cameron McAdoo – W 80.50 4 0
5. Haiden Deegan – E 78.21 5 0
6. Jeremy Martin – E 78.00 6 0
7. Jordon Smith – E 76.77 7 0
8. RJ Hampshire – W 76.75 10 2
9. Levi Kitchen – W 76.67 8 -1
10. Max Anstie – E 74.43 11 1
11. Mitchell Oldenburg – W 73.67 9 -2
12. Max Vohland – W 72.55 13 1
13. Tom Vialle – E 72.07 12 -1
14. Pierce Brown – W 68.64 19 5
15. Enzo Lopes – W 67.83 17 2
16. Chris Blose – E 67.43 15 -1
17. Chance Hymas – E 67.10 16 -1
18. Michael Mosiman – E 65.80 18 0
19. Stilez Robertson – W 64.45 14 -5
20. Phil Nicoletti – W 59.25 20 0

* The NBC Power Rankings assign 100 points to a Main event winner and 90 points for each Heat and Triple Crown win, (Triple Crown wins are included with heat wins below the rider’s name). The points decrement by a percentage equal to the number of riders in the field until the last place rider in each event receives five points. The Power Ranking is the average of these percentage points over the past 45 days for the 450 class and last 90 days for 250s (because of the split nature of their season).

POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 10 AT SEATTLE: Chase Sexton narrowly leads Cooper Webb
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 8 AT DAYTONA: Sexton unseats Eli Tomac
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 7 AT ARLINGTON: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Tomac
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 6 AT OAKLAND: Perfect night keeps Tomac first
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 5 AT TAMPA: Sexton, Webb close in
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 4 AT HOUSTON: Tomac rebounds from A2 crash, retakes lead
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 3 AT ANAHEIM 2: Consistency makes Ken Roczen king
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 2 AT SAN DIEGO: Roczen moves up, Sexton falls
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 1 AT ANAHEIM 1: Tomac, Jett Lawrence gain an early advantage