Kevin Magnussen revealed his relief on Saturday after qualifying seventh on his Formula 1 return having suffered from hydraulic issues in Q2.
The Dane had set a lap time quick enough to sneak through to the top-ten shootout in Bahrain, but was told by his engineer of a hydraulic problem that meant he could not head out onto the circuit for a final run to consolidate his place in the final qualifying session.
There were then fears that he would not be able to get onto the circuit in Q3, but the Haas team did an immaculate job of getting everything sorted, and the 29-year-old set the seventh quickest lap time, out-qualifying Mercedes’ George Russell.
Haas seem to have made remarkable improvements on their abysmal 2021, and Magnussen is delighted with his performance on Saturday.
“We had some good long-run pace in practice. You don’t really know what people are running with fuel and power, but it certainly wasn’t bad,” he explained.
“Starting P7, so we are going for points tomorrow, but the biggest concern is reliability – fingers crossed we can get that sorted.”
Due to the issue in the second qualifying session, the former McLaren and Renault driver was sceptical as to whether he would get a chance to head out onto the circuit in Q3.
“We didn’t think we could get out in Q3,” he added.
Magnussen was brought back to the Banbury team after a year out having previously lost his drive to Nikita Mazepin, whose oligarch father Dmitry paid for the drive.
But when Mazepin’s Uralkali firm was dropped amid Russia’s aggression on Ukraine, the 23-year-old was sacked, and Mazepin returned.
He reaffirmed his shock at being called back to the team, and recalls the plethora of different emotions having encountered issues during qualifying.
“It’s been a massive roller coaster, from getting the call from Guenther [Steiner] and being surprised by that, to trying to make it happen – there were lots of things to sort out,” he said.
“Then getting here, driving the car for the first time, having a sore neck and you hope the car is good. You never really know with this F1 testing and now here having an issue in qualifying.”
With Haas failing to score any points last year, the 29-year-old reveals that he was given no guarantees by team principal Guenther Steiner regarding performance, despite sacrificing 2021 to pile resources into this season to capitalise on the new technical regulations.
“He didn’t promise anything and he could have easily done that,” he stated.
“They had some good feelings with what they had done with the car but after Barcelona there wasn’t much to show for it. We were talking and he said they think they have a pretty decent car but didn’t promise anything.”
After such a splendid qualifying performance, Magnussen is still stupefied to find himself back in the F1 paddock.
“I feel so unbelievably lucky to be here in this situation with a good car in F1. It’s a lot of fun and I’m super-happy,” he added.
Magnussen’s team-mate Mick Schumacher ended qualifying P12.