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The glow comes from Magnussen’s feel-good return to F1

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Kevin Magnussen celebrating a “Viking return” to Formula 1 with a fifth place finish in the 2022 Formula 1 season opener was one of the championship’s healthiest stories in recent years.

The jubilant post-race scenes of a beaming Magnussen celebrating with his family and a Haas team finally having a reason to celebrate after a painful and meaningless 2021 season will long live in the memory of any F1 midfield fan. .

But the shine is really starting to come off Magnussen’s dream return to F1 and there is an all-too-familiar sense of frustration and missed opportunity.

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The Spanish Grand Prix marked the debut of upgrade packs for many of Haas’s midfield rivals, but the team sat tight, knowing its only major upgrade pack of the season wouldn’t come until mid-July.

However, that didn’t stop Magnussen from claiming eighth on the grid and he was challenging Lewis Hamilton for sixth on the opening lap when the duo collided at Turn 4 on the right.

Magnussen was trying to turn around the seven-time champion, who was slowed down by starting second in his fight with Carlos Sainz through the first three corners.

But Hamilton understeered slightly wide and hit Magnussen, who had left him little room with his ambitious move.

Magnussen had every right to do so and the stewards rightly decided that no further action was necessary, but Magnussen opted for a high-risk move with a driver who had a much faster car and ultimately lost a points result for it.

Magnussen is a racing driver, so of course he’ll be racing the car in front of him, but you’re much less likely to see other midfield leaders like Lando Norris overshoot and take damage while doing so.

As a one off incident, that kind of gamble is understandable, but Magnussen had just come off the Miami GP, where he took a penalty and retired after the second of two collisions with Lance Stroll.

At the Canadian GP, ​​he attempted a similarly ambitious move, again at Hamilton, and his race was ruined as a result.

After taking the outside line through Turn 2, Magnussen stayed alongside Hamilton, but the Turn 3 corner that follows is a narrow right-to-left section, and Magnussen’s right front end hit the right side of the car. from Hamilton.

According to Magnussen, this only “scratched” his front wing, but through lobbying from his rivals, the stewards decided to force Magnussen to pit for a new front wing.

“Yes, I was talking to [Esteban] Ocon now and he was just joking about how he told the FIA ​​it was really bad,” said Magnussen after the race.

“If you know you can influence the FIA ​​in that way, you’re going to do it, right? Which is what he did. Fair play.”

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Canadian Grand Prix Race Day Montreal Canada

As in Spain, where he simply said he hadn’t seen the incident yet, Magnussen was brief and direct with his post-race responses, dismissing the contact with Hamilton Montreal as “it is what it is”.

Magnussen’s anger at stewards showing him the black and orange flag in Canada continued to lead him to lead criticism over the delayed start of the Monaco GP.

He said he “didn’t really understand” the decision and when told why [concern that the drivers hadn’t driven in the wet that weekend yet] he replied, “That was it? It’s okay, we’re professional drivers, it’s not WEC.”

In Montreal, Magnussen said the stewards had “felt different” recently, again referring to the start of the Monaco GP.

Magnussen has understandably thrown a more pessimistic figure over the last five races, where a pair of 17th-place finishes mark the only time he has taken the checkered flag.

As Haas falls further and further behind its rivals as understanding of its new upgrade packages grows, there is a real sense of frustration that the team has not capitalized on when it had the car to take it somewhere much more higher than the ninth place it currently occupies in the constructors’ championship.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Qualifying Day for the Canadian Grand Prix Montreal Canada

An often justified feeling that he’s not getting the results he deserves and frustration with the stewards were all hallmarks of Magnussen’s previous six years in F1.

And it seems the harsh realities of F1’s midfield have quickly come back for the Dane, so even though his fifth place on the Montreal grid shows he’s still more than capable of delivering giant-killing results, big part of what hurt his previous spell in F1. he threatens to tarnish his return.

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