Ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, Kevin Magnussen has stated that while he would love to repeat the podium-heroics of his debut performance at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit nine years ago, he conceded that it is simply not a realistic goal for the MoneyGram Haas F1 Team to aim for at this point in the season.
So far in the 2023 FIA Formula 1 World Championship, Haas have only been able to obtain just one point in the Constructors Standings. The team’s sole point was secured by Magnussen last time out at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as the Dane made his way through the field to secure a tenth-place finish at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.
Magnussen will be looking to feed off past experiences at the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit this weekend to help kickstart his and Haas’ season. The thirty-year-old claimed a third-place finish on his Formula 1 debut at the 2013 Australian Grand Prix for the McLaren F1 Team and while a podium may not be a realistic expectation this weekend, a strong overall weekend with a points finish would go along way in helping to improve morale inside the team ahead of the three week break before the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Speaking on his excitement to be returning to the site of his sole podium in Formula 1, Magnussen stated, “It’s a special vibe because Melbourne was the first race of the season for many years. It’s always more exciting because it’s the first race, everyone gets to see new cars and because of that it’s a special vibe. Australia is an awesome place to go, it’s often just a really nice trip overall.”
Despite not being able to achieve a return to the podium-places since his debut, Magnussen has still been able to enjoy a largely successful career in Formula 1.
Magnussen has achieved one hundred and forty four Grand Prix entries for three constructors, amassing a total of one hundred and eighty four points across his first eight seasons in Formula 1.
A recent moment of note in Magnussen’s Formula 1 career came last season at the São Paulo Grand Prix, when the Danish driver was able to defy the odds to secure an unlikely pole-position.
Speaking on how the Magnussen of today differs from the twenty-one year old that took third-place nine years ago, the Haas driver admitted his expectations and focus in Formula 1 have significantly changed from what he was expecting before his debut.
“Many, many things. When I look back, I feel like I was a child back then. It’s basically a third of my life since then and a lot of stuff has happened since. It was a very intense weekend because having your first Formula 1 race weekend in itself is a big thing, a great experience on its own. Then, getting on the podium made it that much more special and certainly one of the weekends in my life that I’ll remember forever.
“A podium would definitely mean more now than back then though. Back then, I was in a whole different mindset, as I came from junior categories where podiums, wins and championships were a regular thing.
“Getting on the podium in Formula 1 was a big thing but it was also something that I almost expected and anticipated, whereas reality showed later on that it wasn’t going to be the norm. Now, it would mean so much more because it’s not something I’m anticipating as such – I’m dreaming, hoping and working towards it – but it’s not something we can expect, so it would mean a million times more than it would back then.”
Last year saw the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit undertake a number of changes to it’s layout in sector two to help improve the quality of racing on offer. Speaking on the changes, Magnussen admitted that while he appreciated how the changes to the layout have made the track faster, he ultimately prefers the original layout.
“I think the promoter has done a pretty good job with the new layout, but I don’t know if it’s better – I still really like the old track. It had real character to it and now it’s maybe a bit similar to other tracks we go to, but it’s become a faster and more flowing circuit which is fun in a Formula 1 car. I do like the old track a bit more.”
With the Chinese Grand Prix once again falling victim to cancellation, Formula 1 is set for a three week break after the Australian Grand Prix before resuming again at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
Magnussen touched on how he will be taking full advantage of the three week break to decompress and spend much needed time with his family.
“The great thing is that you really get into a training routine – you have these three and a half weeks where you don’t have jet lag or any travel so every day you can train, full-time, in a routine. That’s the great thing about it and to have family time as well, for us dads in the paddock we enjoy it that little bit more.”
Nico Hulkenberg: “I’m looking forward to going and learning the new high-speed Melbourne characteristics
Still yet to secure a points-finish since his full-time return to Formula 1, Nico Hulkenberg spoke on how he won’t be welcoming the three week break after the Australian Grand Prix as he desperately seeks his first points finish with the Haas team.
Hulkenberg failed to capitalise on strong qualifying performances in both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia as a tenth-place grid position in Sakhir resulted in a fifteenth-place finish, while after qualifying in eleventh in Jeddah, Hulkenberg would cross the finish line marginally outside the points-paying positions in twelfth.
Looking to put the disappointment of his race finishes behind him, Hulkenberg now looks ahead to tackling the Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit for the first time with it’s new layout, a challenge that the Haas driver is looking forward to taking on.
“Melbourne is a cool, vibrant place and although it’s a big journey for us all to get there, it’s always fun to travel and I’ve made lots of friends over the years. I’m looking forward to coming back.
“The track has been modified slightly since I raced there last in 2019, they’ve opened up some of the corners, so I think it’s much more high-speed now. There’s a lot of DRS zones as well so I’m looking forward to going and learning the new high-speed Melbourne characteristics.”
While admitting he won’t be welcoming the three week break after this weekends race, Hulkenberg stated he will be taking the time off to regroup from the opening three races before preparing to go again in Azerbaijan at the end of April.
“It wasn’t planned but we’ll take it. It will be good to be able to digest the first three races, regroup with the team and go again. I think ideally a big break so early in the season is not really what we’d wish for but then again, it’s the same for everyone.”