Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Interlagos, 2022

2022 F1 driver rankings #12: Kevin Magnussen

2022 F1 driver rankings

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No one was more surprised to see Kevin Magnussen be given a third chance at a Formula 1 career than Kevin Magnussen. After already missing out the 2015 season before returning to the grid, Magnussen becomes one of the rare examples of a driver securing a multi-year contract in Formula 1 after a second full year out of the sport.

But in his return to the grid, Magnussen proved that Haas team principal Guenther Steiner had made a wise choice in calling up his old driver and prising him away from Peugeot and Chip Ganassi’s endurance programmes.

Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022
Fifth place on his return in Bahrain was outstanding
Having spent the entirety of 2021 working on nothing but their 2022 car, Haas had high hopes for the VF-22. When Magnussen set the fastest time of the second day of the second pre-season test in Bahrain, Haas suddenly became one of the most intriguing teams on the grid heading to the opening race.

Despite a year away, Magnussen stuck his new car seventh on the grid during the first Saturday of the season, immediately validating their aggressive development approach of the previous year. The following night, he spent the vast majority of the race as “best of the rest” behind the top three teams before taking advantage of the Red Bulls’ late retirements to cross the line in fifth, securing Haas’ best result for almost four years.

After producing the most outstanding performance of the weekend on his first round back, Magnussen followed it up by arriving at an unfamiliar circuit in Jeddah and comfortably reaching Q3 despite multiple technical problems limiting his practice time. Then in the race, he ran an exceedingly long first stint before using fresh rubber over the final laps to make his way up into the points in ninth for the second race in a row.

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The Haas simply didn’t get along with Melbourne’s Albert Park circuit and he was out-performed by young team mate Mick Schumacher for the first time. But in Imola Magnussen was back on form. He recovered from his trip into the gravel in Friday qualifying to secure fourth on the grid for the sprint race and claim the final point in eighth. In the mixed conditions during the grand prix, he secured two more points in ninth to move his tally up to 15 – team mate Schumacher still yet to contribute to his total at that point.

Front wing damage became common occurrence for Magnussen
But it was not all smooth sailing. Miami, by Magnussen’s own admission, was the hardest race he’d ever done in Formula 1. He clashed with Lance Stroll and suffered front wing damage and then collided with the Aston Martin driver a second time, earning a five-second time penalty. In Spain, a return to Q3 offered great promise, but any hopes of further points ended when he suffered a first-lap puncture due to contact with Lewis Hamilton.

Magnussen continued to out-perform Schumacher on Saturdays, but his Sundays were being frustrated technical problems and other obstacles. In Montreal, he and Schumacher enjoyed their best qualifying of the season so far in fifth and sixth, but front wing endplate damage sustained by another first-lap touch with Hamilton saw him shown the black-and-orange flag by race control, forcing him to pit and ruining his race, to the fury of his team.

Happily for Haas, the next two rounds at Silverstone and the Red Bull Ring both produced top ten finishes for Magnussen. But for the first time, he had been clearly beaten by Schumacher in back-to-back races and it seemed that Magnussen may have more of a challenge from his team mate over the second half of the season.

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Magnussen continued to endure misfortune. He breezed into Q3 in Paul Ricard far quicker than his team mate, but he had already been doomed to a back-row start due to a power unit penalty. He jumped from last to 13th in a brilliant opening lap, but a poorly timed Safety Car cost him before a clash with Nicholas Latifi saw him retire for the third time during the season. When he arrived in Hungary, Haas had a shiny new car for him that had been extensively upgraded for the weekend. But he was unable to put it fully through its paces in the race as, again, minor contact led to him being flagged by race control a second time and forced to replace his front wing, putting an effective end to his race.

In Zandvoort, Magnussen was simply slower than Schumacher around the track which only the younger driver had experienced in F1. Monza was never going to suit the Haas, but a time penalty for gaining a place off-track and a damaged diffuser from contact with Sergio Perez ensured he would end up at the very back of the field.

Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Interlagos, 2022
Pole in Brazil stunned the racing world
Ahead of Singapore, there was a key new dynamic to Magnussen’s season. His former Renault race engineer Mark Slade had taken over as his number one on the pit wall. The impact of Slade’s appointment was tangible, as Magnussen stuck the car ninth on the grid at Marina Bay and likely could have contended for points if it wasn’t for yet another black-and-orange flag in the early laps.

In the US Grand Prix, he handed his car over to Antonio Giovinazzi for first practice, who repaid him by promptly spinning it into the barriers. Magnussen just missed out on Q2 but in the race, an excellent final stint on mediums allowed him to rise up to sixth place before being caught be faster cars. He was only just beaten to eighth on the final lap after an intense duel with Sebastian Vettel.

But the obvious highlight of the season came in Brazil. In a frantic Friday qualifying session where rain played havoc over the hour, Slade ensured Magnussen began Q3 with the right tyres and the right track position. Magnussen delivered a flawless lap to beat everyone else and as the rain fell, a stunning maiden pole position was his. In the sprint race, he did his team and himself proud by holding onto the lead for the opening two laps, but inevitably dropped to eighth by the chequered flag. Any chance for further points on Sunday were robbed from him by Daniel Ricciardo, the McLaren knocking the Haas into a spin on the opening lap.

When the season ended, Magnussen could look back on his return to Formula 1 with mixed emotions. He had given his team not just their best moments of the season but some of the best in the team’s history. But he could also soberly look back at many different Sundays and rue what could have been had his car not let him down – or had he managed to keep his front wing in one piece.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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11 comments on “2022 F1 driver rankings #12: Kevin Magnussen”

  1. Magnussen arguably had his best season ever. He never beat a teammate this much on Saturdays in qualifying. (16-6)
    And he got into Q3 so many times this year. Just in terms of raw numbers he was one of the top 10 qualifiers on the grid this year. It remains to be seen how good Mick is but Magnussen was more impressive than ever. There can be improvements in his race management and incidents but his raw pace was impressive.

    1. Well tbf Grosjean was an incredibly quick driver. On pure pace terms he is definitely an A-level driver. His inconsistency and lack of spatial awareness is what dragged him down.

      1. Both Magnussen and Grosjean are too erratic. They have good underlying speed but gets into incidents and a bit unreliable. Their debut seasons sums up their career. Matched World Champions(Button, Raikkonen) on pace. But was noway near in terms of points scored. Giovinazzi is probably in the same group but his timing wasn’t great.

        1. “Their debuts seasons sums up…”

          It has puzzled me in 2022, how many people think it’s okay for Mick to have 2 start up seasons. And of course it’s okay for Muck not to match your teammate, when all other drivers are not given that leaway.

          E.g what is Vandoorne thinking of this…

          1. They’re not given that leeway? Looks like zhou was, and for obvious reasons, but stroll definitely is given that leeway too.

          2. I think Giovinazzi showed more in F1 than Vandoorne. Sure. Stoffel is a bit unlucky he only faced Alonso in F1 but he showed very little performance in capable cars. It’s blizzare to me he got less points in 2018 than in 2017. Given how much Alonso improved/car improved.

  2. I thought Magnussen would be a shoo-in for the top 10 in this list – he was ninth in 2020 after a much less impressive set of performances. Really feels like these rankings are based much more on the car than in previous years.

  3. Thought he started the season great and then just started going backwards after the mid point. He did have a great weekend in Brazil though.. which is why he’s ranked so highly. Overall, from 14 to 11 were the most mediocre performers on the grid, who were pretty much invisible in terms of performances most weekends, and were either just out of the points or grabbing the last couple on occasion. For the #14 to #11 –
    14) Gasly
    13) Ocon
    12) Magnussen
    11) Albon

    1. Read the artickle. Magnussens dip in results was due to being sent to the back of the field by flags, broken diffuser, engine, etc. You don’t recover to the front in a Haas car, afterall.

    2. So your conclusion is that the midfield is the medicore?
      Very deductive. Though it goes into 10th, 9th and perhaps also 8th; drivers that only on occassion stood out.

      1. For some reasons, Todfod doesn’t like Gasly and espacially Ocon and never misses an occasion to say it. That’s fine, but calling them “mediocre” or “worst on the grid” cast a doubt on the underlying reasons, given those drivers are far from being the worst on the grid.

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