Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Suzuka, 2023

Kevin Magnussen

Kevin Magnussen joined McLaren’s young driver programme in 2009 and within four years the team had decided to promote him to their F1 race squad. However, he would become more closely connected with the Haas over the course of this F1 career.

Magnussen’s route to F1

His father Jan Magnussen began an association with the same team 15 years earlier, leading to a single start for McLaren in the 1995 Pacific Grand Prix.

Born: 5th October 1992
Birthplace: Roskilde, Denmark
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The younger Magnussen emulated his father’s climb through the lower ranks, though without quite the same conspicuous promise as his father’s famously dominant British Formula Three campaign. He won Denmark’s Formula Ford championship in 2008 having stepped up from karts, and two years later was winning F3 races in his rookie campaign in the German and European series.

British Formula 3

He emulated his father’s move into the British championship in 2011. But while the elder Magnussen won 14 out of 18 races in 1994, Kevin had to settle for second in the championship behind team mate Felipe Nasr. Nonetheless he underlined his credentials by matching Nasr’s tally of seven wins.

Formula Renault 3.5

That prompted a move up to Formula Renault 3.5 where newer and more powerful cars were being used for the first time. Magnussen acquitted himself well but endured a luckless season, losing an almost certain win in Hungary when his car failed a lap from home.

The following year he delivered on his potential and came out on top of a competitive field which included fellow McLaren development driver Stoffel Vandoorne and highly rated Red Bull junior racer Antonio Felix da Costa.

Magnussen clinched the title with five wins and missed out on a sixth victory due to a technical infringement. But his consistency was just as impressive & without that disqualification he’d have been on the podium 14 times in 17 races.

McLaren’s support led to him driving for the team at the 2012 and 2013 young drivers tests. They were sufficiently impressed with his potential that they took the surprising decision to drop Sergio Perez after a single season and promote Magnussen to their race team for 2014.

Kevin Magnussen’s F1 career


Kevin Magnussen, McLaren, Albert Park, Melbourne, 2014
Magnussen scored a surprise podium finish on his debut
Magnussen’s F1 career could hardly have got off to a better start. He qualified his McLaren-Mercedes on the second row of the grid on his first visit to the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne, and was soon up to third place after Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes hit trouble.

Showing commendable maturity, Magnussen brought the car home in the same position, taking a podium finish. He was later promoted to second in place of Daniel Ricciardo, whose Red Bull failed a post-race technical inspection, the best result for an F1 debutant in 18 years.

However it proved a false dawn for Magnussen and the team, neither of which reached the podium again all season. A tangle with Kimi Raikkonen early in his second race in Malaysia set the tone for an often frustrating season as McLaren were stuck in the midfield.

He repeated his fourth place on the grid in Germany but was hit by Felipe Massa within seconds of the start, compromising his race. Though he was blameless on that occasion, he occasionally found himself on the wrong side of the stewards.

Nonetheless Magnussen contributed 12 points finishes over the 19 races. While he was unsurprisingly shaded by world champion team mate Jenson Button it seemed a tough verdict on his performance when he was dropped the following season, even if his place was taken by a driver of the calibre of two-times champion Fernando Alonso.

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Magnussen found himself heading to Melbourne as a race driver again after Alonso was injured in a pre-season testing crash, but he was destined not to start as the team suffered the first of many problems related to its new Honda power unit.

For the rest of the year Magnussen was back on the bench, and his hopes of a 2016 return seemed to be dashed when McLaren ended their association with him. However in the run-up to the 2016 season, Renault announced it had parted company with Pastor Maldonado and hired Magnussen to partner Jolyon Palmer for the following season.


Move to Renault yielded little
Move to Renault yielded little
An early points finish in Russia seemed to indicate Magussen could have a productive year at Renault. However the RS16, rooted in an underdeveloped Lotus design, proved too far off the pace at most venues and often struggled to progress beyond Q1.

At times Magnussen was plainly over-driving. He was also run closer by team mate Jolyon Palmer than many expected.

Magnussen had been in discussions with Haas about a 2016 drive and he reopened communications with them as he grew concerned about Renault’s prospects towards the end of the season. He committed to the switch for 2017, meaning he would drive for his third different team in as many years.

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Magussen’s arrival at Haas coincided with a new technical rules cycle, and the team produced a car that was consistently capable of finishing in the points.

Five top-ten finishes meant Magnussen scored 19 points, more than twice the amount he had scored the year before but only 40% of Haas’s total from the season as team mate Romain Grosjean took home points eight times.

It took until the Italian Grand Prix, round 13 of the season, for Magnussen’s only appearance in the top ten on the grid and that was achieved after qualifying 16th as nine drivers took grid penalties. His best actual qualifying result was 11th at the Spanish Grand Prix, and seventh place in the Azerbaijan Grand Prix was his best race result.

In August, a month before the Italian Grand Prix, Haas announced both of their drivers would be retained for 2018.


Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Hockenheimring, 2018
Haas came good in Magnussen’s second year at the team
Magnussen enjoyed his most competitive season yet, with continuity serving him well as he scored 56 points – a tally he is still yet to match – and came ninth in the championship.

He delivered Haas their first top-five finish in over two years in the second race of the season in Bahrain, and repeated the feat in Austria. In total there were 11 points finishes, and he finished 19 points and five places ahead of Grosjean in the standings.

Magnussen made Q3 on the first attempt in Australia, with fifth on the grid (gaining one place from a rival’s grid penalty) being his best starting position since the 2014 German Grand Prix. He qualified fifth two more times later in the year.

The low point of the campaign was Haas’s home race, the United States Grand Prix, as he was disqualified for overconsumption of fuel during the race. By that point he had already been confirmed as staying with the team for 2019.

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Sixth place for Magnussen in Australia meant the season started on a high, but Haas were a team in turmoil and there were only three more points finishes for Magnussen over the 21-race campaign.

The United States Grand Prix was again a low point as Magnussen was lapped by the top four and then retired with a few laps left of the race following a brake failure-induced off.

Haas’s one-lap pace was strong enough for Magnussen to qualify fifth in Monaco, sixth in Bahrain and eighth on two occasions, but only in one of those instances did he convert a position on the front four rows on the grid into points.

However he did enough to convince Haas to retain his services for 2020, and they announced his latest contract extension with seven races to go.


Magnussen only scored half of the points that his team mate managed in the pandemic-delayed 2020 season, but it was a small difference since Grosjean scored two and Magnussen earned a single point from finishing tenth in the Hungarian Grand Prix.

There were only three Q2 appearances, with his best starting position being 13th at the Turkish Grand Prix, and he only finished in the top 13 of four races in total.

Haas again were quick to make decisions about their future, announcing with six races to go that Magnussen would leave them at the end of the season.

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Having lost his place in Formula 1, replaced by Nikita Mazepin, Magnussen moved to the United States to compete in the IMSA SportsCar series with Chip Ganassi in their DPI. He and team mate Renger van der Zande took a race win at Detroit, his first race victory since Formula Renault 3.5 back in 2013.

He also competed in the Le Mans 24 Hours with High Class Racing in the LMP2 class and even stepped into Felix Rosenqvist’s McLaren at the IndyCar round at Road America for a one-off appearance, leading six laps before retiring.


Kevin Magnussen, Bahrain International Circuit, Haas, 2022
After a year out, Magnussen made a successful return to Haas
Nine days before the 2022 Formula 1 season began, Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine led to Russian driver Mazepin losing his seat at Haas.

Not only did Haas bring back their second-longest serving driver, but also finally signed him on a multi-year deal rather than deciding year-by-year whether to retain him.

The reunion began in style at the Bahrain Grand Prix as Magnussen went fifth fastest in Q1, eventually qualified seventh but then finished fifth in the race. He came ninth in the next race in Saudi Arabia, marking the first time he’d scored in two races in a row since the 2019 season opener.

More points arrived two rounds later at Imola with eighth in the sprint race and ninth in the grand prix, then mid-season he finished tenth at Silverstone and followed that up a week later at the Red Bull Ring with seventh in the sprint race and eighth in the grand prix.

Magnussen finally delivered for Haas on their home soil by finishing ninth at Circuit of the Americas, and then took a remarkable first pole of his F1 career at Interlagos. He could only convert that into eighth place in the sprint race, and was then hit out of the grand prix on lap one.

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