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

Kevin Magnussen Rolex F1

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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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.”

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E

Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

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Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.