Kevin Magnussen says he is prepared to die in a Formula 1 car as he defends his driving style following complaints from his rivals.
Following a high-speed clash with Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda‘s Pierre Gasly in the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Gasly described Magnussen as “the most dangerous guy I have ever raced with.”
The incident gained Magnussen a ten-second penalty but it wasn’t the first time the Dane’s driving standards have been called into question. Nico Hulkenberg referred to Magnussen as “the most unsporting driver” after an incident in last year’s Hungarian Grand Prix.
“I don’t like compromises. I will give everything. I will die in the car. I won’t hold back,” Magnussen told Reuters. “I would put my life on (the line). Absolutely. When you put your helmet on and you’re in the race, I find that’s just everything there is in the world.
“I love my family, and there’s so many things in life I enjoy, but when I’m in the car there’s nothing else that means anything. For me, when I get in the car, the essential of life is Formula 1.”
“I race hard,” he added. “In a situation like this with a midfield team, you’re not guaranteed to score points. And sometimes you have nothing to lose.
“You might get a penalty, you might lose your front wing but there’s nothing to lose if you’re 11th. Go for it. Sometimes you have to be a lot more aggressive when you’re fighting out there.
“If you are fighting for the championship, you have to play the long game. You have to change your approach. If I was fighting for the championship, you wouldn’t see me racing the same way.”
Magnussen’s willingness to put his life on the line may concern those who have spoken out against him but the Haas F1 Team driver has already made it clear that he would rather have been a grand prix driver during a more dangerous age.
“I dream of racing in the ‘60s. If I had one wish, I would say to be born in the ‘30s and be young in the ‘50s and ‘60s. It hurts my racing heart when I see things so far from what it was back then. I envy those guys so much.
“It was just pure and more exciting. You could make a difference if you were really willing to take risks. And also if you felt comfortable on that limit. Now everyone feels comfortable, there’s no risk.
“Back then, if you have the ability to be calm and collected, on the limit of death effectively, you made a difference. And now that’s not really a factor any more.”