In a stunning turn Wednesday, Haas F1 welcomed back Kevin Magnussen, announcing a mulityear contract with the Danish driver.
Magnussen, who drove for Haas from 2017-20, will test Haas’ VF-22 at Bahrain International Circuit with teammate Mick Schumacher and reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi. Magnussen, 29, had focused mostly on sports cars over the past year, driving full time last season for Chip Ganassi Racing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with a victory at Detroit. He also drove for Ganassi in the 2022 Rolex 24 at Daytona and was slated to race a Cadillac for the team in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring next week (a replacement has yet to be named).
A veteran of 119 career starts in Formula One, Magnussen finished a career-best ninth in the points standings with Haas in 2018 with 11 top 10 finishes in 21 starts (including fifths at Bahrain and Austria). He made his debut in 2014 with a second in a McLaren Mercedes at the Australian Grand Prix.
Haas dropped Magnussen and Romain Grosjean (who now races in the NTT IndyCar Series for Andretti Autosport) after the 2020 season when the team elected to try a youth movement with Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin, who was fired by the team this week after his Russsian-based sponsorship was nixed.
— Kevin Magnussen (@KevinMagnussen) March 9, 2022
Team owner Gene Haas had told the Associated Press before last Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway that several candidates were being considered with an emphasis on experience — but even Magnussen was stunned to have made the list.
“I was obviously very surprised but equally very excited to receive the call from Haas F1 Team,” Magnussen said in a release. “I was looking in a different direction regarding my commitments for 2022 but the opportunity to return to compete in Formula 1, and with a team I know extremely well, was simply too appealing. I really have to say thank you to both Peugeot and Chip Ganassi Racing for releasing me promptly – both are great organizations.
“Naturally, I also want to thank Gene Haas and Guenther Steiner for the chance to resume my Formula 1 career – I know just how competitive they both are and how keen they are to return to competing week in and week out. We’ve enjoyed a solid relationship and our positive association remained even when I left at the end of 2020. I’ve been briefed as much as possible on the development of the VF-22 and the potential in the package. There’s work to do but I’m excited to be a part of it. I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car in Bahrain.”
Magnussen had seemed done with F1 after leaving Haas, pursuing his options in single-seaters and sports cars. He made his IndyCar debut at Road America in place of an injured Felix Rosenqvist and also raced in the 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans with his father, Jan.
Before his debut with Ganassi in last year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, Kevin Magnussen told NBC Sports that “the last years in Formula One, I’ve been a little bit bored. 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. 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.”
But 2021 turned out to be Magnussen’s only full season at Ganassi, and his return to Haas was greeted with no hard feelings.
“I’m delighted to welcome Kevin Magnussen back to Haas F1 Team,” said Guenther Steiner, team principal of Haas F1. “When looking for a driver who could bring value to the team, not to mention a wealth of Formula 1 experience, Kevin was a straightforward decision for us. Kevin’s immediate availability means we can tap into him as a resource for preseason testing alongside both Mick Schumacher and Pietro Fittipaldi. Pietro’s going to be first in this week with half a day’s running at the test on Thursday – that’s a great opportunity for him, with Mick and Kevin doing the rest ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix.
“Kevin was a key component in our previous successes – not least when we both scored our best finishes in Formula 1 back in 2018. He continued to show last year that he’s an elite race car driver adding wins and podiums to his resume. As a veteran presence in both the garage and the engineering room, he’ll provide a solid benchmark for us with the on-going development of the VF-22. We’re all looking forward to welcoming Kevin back this week in Bahrain.”