Kevin Magnussen believes his attitude towards Formula 1 has changed following his year away from the sport, as well as becoming a father.
Magnussen was granted a second lease of life in Formula 1 in early 2022 when Haas called on the Danish driver to request a return to replace the ousted Nikita Mazepin.
It was an unlikely turn of events, which began with Russia beginning military action in neighboring Ukraine with Haas releasing Russian racer Mazepin and title sponsor Uralkali in response.
Magnussen, despite very little preparation time for 2022, hit the road with a stellar fifth-place finish to kick off the season. While that initial success marked the high point of the year in terms of points, Magnussen scored his and the team’s first pole position with the unlikely result coming to him in a rain-affected qualifying session in Brazil.
Magnussen, who drove for Haas already between 2017 and 2020, has been open about feeling more relaxed during his second stint in the sport: The Dane turned 30, got married and had his first child, and had already come to terms with the loss of his Formula 1 career after starting a thriving sporting career.
Kevin Magnussen: I thought being World Champion was the end result
Speaking in an interview with the Dutch branch of Motorsport.com, Magnussen spoke about his attitude and how he feels it has changed since 2020.
“The biggest pressure is my own expectations,” he said.
“When I was a kid, I thought life was just about F1 and getting to the top of the sport. I thought becoming F1 World Champion was the greatest achievement in life. Now I realize that this is not the case. That takes some of the pressure off and that’s a good thing.”
By taking a more relaxed approach to his racing and enjoying life with the team he has been associated with since late 2016, year apart, Magnussen said he has been able to ease the mental pressure he has exerted during this first term. .
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“I like Formula 1 more now,” he admitted.
“When I was in my old mindset, everything seemed very scary because of the pressure I put on myself. I was afraid I wouldn’t feel happiness if I didn’t succeed in sports. This obviously gives a lot of pressure.
“Then there’s the pressure from all the other people. This sport is a very tough competition in many areas. I think it’s more positive now. People often joke that you lose two tenths of a speed when you become a father, but that’s definitely not the case. I think it’s the other way around.
“There is a weight on my shoulders now. Of course, I still have high expectations of myself and high ambitions, but now it’s just different. It’s all OK. I’m happy.”
Kevin Magnussen faces a new challenge in 2023
Having faced the tough challenge of returning to F1 in unfamiliar cars in 2022, Magnussen also had to take over as team leader due to his veteran status compared to the inexperienced Mick Schumacher.
For 2023, Magnussen faces a very different dynamic as Nico Hulkenberg returns from a three-year hiatus from F1 racing, aside from occasional ‘super-sub’ appearances for Racing Point and Aston Martin.
Magnussen and Hulkenberg had a notoriously poor relationship as rivals several years ago but, with age and maturity, both parties have indicated a willingness to cooperate and work cohesively together. Only time will tell if Hulkenberg’s arrival in Magnussen territory will inflame a less amiable Dane…