Kevin Magnussen has performed valiantly since returning to Formula 1 this season, following an extremely late call-up to replace Nikita Mazepin.
After being dropped by Haas at the end of the 2020 season, the Dane probably assumed that his F1 career was over and it was easy to understand why.
The Americans replaced Magnussen and Romain Grosjean with Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin for 2021, in what was the team’s worst season since joining the championship.
Haas opted to put zero development into their 2021 car and basically used their 2020 design for a second season, with the team putting all their focus into the 2022 regulations.
The VF-21 was absolutely woeful; however, Schumacher maximised the car that was at his disposal.
Mazepin, on the other hand, was dreadful and quite often in the way of much faster drivers.
The 23-year-old was dropped by Haas right before the start of the 2022 season, for obvious reasons.
This resulted in a late call to Magnussen, who happily returned to a full-time seat at the team which dropped him and his team-mate.
Since returning, Magnussen has claimed five points finishes, including, an unbelievable P5 in his first race back in the championship at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.
With six races remaining, the Dane sits P12 in the Drivers’ Championship on 22 points, staggeringly ahead of McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo and his Haas team-mate.
Whilst the 29-year-old has struggled recently, compared to his under-fire team-mate, the Danish driver is contracted to be on the grid next season, after signing a two-year deal when he re-joined the seventh placed team.
According to the team’s trackside engineering director, Ayao Komatsu believes Magnussen has returned to the sport as a different driver, with his “attitude and mental state” being “like night and day” to when he left at the end of 2020.
Komatsu loves working with the former McLaren driver, after admitting it’s a “real pleasure” working with him.
“Kevin’s attitude and mental state is like night and day different from two years ago,” Komatsu told Motorsport-total.com.
“He has come back much more mature after this year off. It’s a real pleasure to work with him.
“And he doesn’t even focus on beating his team-mate, he always thinks about the team.”
Whilst Magnussen is loved by the team and Guenther Steiner, Schumacher is currently facing very different treatment at the American team.
The 23-year-old is without a contract for 2023, with Steiner revealing recently that there’s only a “50/50 chance” that he’s retained.
Schumacher has massively improved as of late; however, his big crashes in Saudi Arabia and Monaco appear to still be very prominent in the team’s memory.
Steiner has also been particularly negative about the German driver at times this season when talking to the media, something which hasn’t gone down well with those close to the son of Michael Schumacher.
Komatsu actually demonstrated some support for the German during the interview, where he expressed the fact that Magnussen was very much the same as Schumacher “five years ago”.
“Five years ago, Kevin would have been exactly the same as Mick is today,” said Komatsu.
“Young drivers always want to beat their team-mate first. Kevin wants to beat Mick too, of course, but it’s not his first focus. He’s above that.
“Mick just has less experience. That’s why this is not meant to be a criticism of him.
“He’s learning all the time. He’s not slow, but most of all he’s learning all the time. If he sets the right focus and stays mentally strong, he will go a good way.
“And he will learn from his team-mates. Because learning, he’s really great at that.”