Kevin Magnussen is Mick Schumacher’s teammate in Formula 1 team Haas. In 2014, the Dane finished on the podium in the very first race of his career. A success that he has not been able to repeat since. Magnussen lost his cockpit twice and fought his way back into Formula 1 twice. WELT met the 29-year-old before the Grand Prix on Sunday in Singapore (2 p.m., in the WELT sports ticker) at an appointment with team sponsor Home Deluxe to chat about his unexpected comeback, dark hotel rooms and his dual roles as father and driver.
WELT: Mr. Magnussen, as a Formula 1 driver, you fly around the world for races. How often do you wake up in the morning and have to find out where you are?
Kevin Magnussen: Happens. You wake up, it’s dark and you ask yourself: Where am I right now? Then you curse and try to find the light switch and don’t know where it is because the hotel room is still unfamiliar to you.
WELT: Your career in Formula 1 already seemed over. At the beginning of 2022, they briefly replaced the Russian Nikita Masepin, who, because of his closeness to Vladimir Putin, was no longer sustainable after Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
Magnussen: I’m still a bit surprised to be back. But I’m lucky and glad to have this chance. From a professional point of view you go through the races and question where you could have done better. I’ve never had that one season in my career where I would say it was perfect. But I think to feel that you have to be world champion.
WELT: The first race must have felt unreal.
Magnussen: Definitely, I was really overwhelmed. Everything happened so quickly and was so unexpected, all of a sudden I’m sitting in a racing car again. And not only that, I became a father for the first time during the time without Formula 1. So it was also the first time that my daughter took part in one of my races. This has never crossed before. And now these two big parts of my life, being in Formula 1 and becoming a father, have come together. That was very nice, meanwhile she has already been to five or six races. Although of course I can’t spend that much time with her on a race weekend, just having her there feels great.
WELT: You are now a father and have spent a year away from the Formula 1 circuit. How did that change you?
Magnussen: I can enjoy everything more. Some things are easier for you, but others are also more difficult. You spend so much time traveling it makes it hard for me as a father. On the other hand, I’m now better able to deal with the pressure that’s on us drivers. Becoming a father and being out of Formula 1 for a year gives you a different perspective on life. I realized that whatever comes after career is great too. That reduced the fear that the time in Formula 1 could be over again quickly.
WELT: 24 races are planned for the coming season. Never that many before. How do you deal with that?
Magnussen: I miss a lot of time with my daughter who is never coming back. But you can’t just look at us drivers. It’s particularly tough for the team’s mechanics and engineers. You fly in Economy and often have to share a room. With the budget cap, it’s not possible to hire more people and rotate them. 24 races will be very tough. Not so much for us drivers, but above all for the team.
WELT: It is said that a child makes you several seconds slower as a driver. Is that correct?
Magnussen: (laughs) Yes, that’s right. It took me almost two seconds. Think where I could be now. I would be world champion. No, seriously: When you’re in the car, you try to ignore the danger and not let it affect you.
WELT: They might not have gotten a win at the end of their career. That’s how it is for most drivers. How do I handle this?
Magnussen: You have to approach things differently. Instead of thinking I’m going to win today and I’ll be world champion, the aim is to get the maximum out of it. It’s about being patient. But of course it is a dilemma. I didn’t make it into Formula 1 by being patient and waiting. But as soon as you get into Formula 1, you have to change your attitude.
WELT: What do you mean?
Magnussen: You can’t survive in junior classes and other sports if you’re not fully focused on winning. In Formula 1, however, this can be a hindrance. You have to define winning differently. It’s not easy and I don’t like doing it. But it is like that. And it’s still the premier class of motorsport and to even have made it this far is a win of sorts.
WELT: Your team-mate Mick Schumacher does not yet have a contract for the coming season, so he is currently driving for his future in Formula 1. How does that affect the atmosphere in the team?
Magnussen: It doesn’t particularly change the mood. We are all used to situations like this, Formula 1 is a fast-moving business. You also have to deal with it as a driver. If you have a long career, you will often find yourself in this situation.