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Magnussen: Previous pressure in Formula 1 felt "very scary"

Kevin Magnussen has found Formula 1 “easier to enjoy” since returning in 2022 after a year away, admitting his previous mindset led to pressure that felt “very scary.”

Kevin Magnussen, Haas F1 Team

Magnussen’s F1 career looked to have ended in 2020 when he was dropped by Haas at the end of the season, prompting him to move into sportscar racing in the United States.

But after Nikita Mazepin’s contract was terminated in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Magnussen returned to Haas on a multi-year deal. The Dane finished fifth in his comeback race in Bahrain, and went on to score a shock maiden pole in Brazil towards the end of the year.

Haas team boss Gunther Steiner told Autosport in an interview that he thought Magnussen was “mentally a lot stronger” since returning to F1, in part due to his added experience and becoming a father in his time away. 

In an interview with select media including Autosport, Magnussen said he felt his own expectations and personal pressure had eased, causing a shift in his mindset.

“The biggest pressure is my own expectation,” Magnussen explained.

“Ever since I was a little child, I’ve thought of life as being all about Formula 1 and getting to the top of the sport. I thought being a Formula 1 world champion is the ultimate thing you can achieve in life, which I’ve now realised is not the case.

“That took some of that pressure away, and that’s been a really positive thing. Now I actually enjoy Formula 1 a lot more.

“When I was in that old mindset, it always just felt very scary to be around here because of all that pressure from myself. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to achieve happiness if I didn’t get success in the sport, which of course is a very heavy pressure.

“And then there’s all the pressure from everyone. This sport is a very tough competition in many ways.

"So I think for me, it’s actually been a positive. I heard a lot of people joke that oh, it costs a tenth or two when you become a dad, but it’s certainly not the case. I think it’s the other way around.”

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-22

Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-22

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Magnussen made his F1 debut in 2014 with McLaren, heralded as the next star to come through its junior programme after scoring a podium finish on debut in Australia that made him believe he could fight for the championship

But he was dropped from the team’s line-up after a just a single season, and would go on to spend one year at Renault before starting his first stint at Haas in 2017.

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He admitted that he now found F1 “easier to enjoy” and that his “love for the sport is now thriving, because there’s nothing pulling it down.”

“There’s not this big weight on my shoulders in the same way,” Magnussen said.

“Of course you still have great expectations to myself, and big ambitions, but it’s just different. It's all OK, that kind of thing. I’m happy.”

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