INSIGHT: Why Kevin Magnussen was ready to leave F1 for Ganassi

Andy Hone/Motorsport Images

INSIGHT: Why Kevin Magnussen was ready to leave F1 for Ganassi

Insights & Analysis

INSIGHT: Why Kevin Magnussen was ready to leave F1 for Ganassi


It has been one hell of a week if you work for the Haas F1 Team. Romain Grosjean’s terrifying crash on Sunday kicked off a manic chain of events that included Pietro Fittipaldi being announced as his replacement on Monday, Nikita Mazepin as a 2021 driver for the team on Tuesday and Mick Schumacher as Mazepin’s teammate on Wednesday.

Throughout all of that Grosjean was in hospital until being discharged on Wednesday and then arriving at the track on Thursday to see his team, and thank the safety crews that helped save his life.

But Thursday also brought another Haas-related announcement when Kevin Magnussen was confirmed as a Chip Ganassi Racing driver in IMSA next year, partnering Renger van der Zande. It means the talented Dane will leave the F1 paddock for the States, and the passion as he talked RACER through the decision to move was clear to see.

“I kind of knew what the situation was like at Haas, I kind of put two and two together with the amount of money I knew the team had to find for next year,” Magnussen explained. “I was thinking, ‘I know there are some drivers out there that can bring quite a bit of that margin,’ so I knew that it was looking that way. I thought maybe they’d be able to keep one of us and just keep one driver, but at the end of the day I thought that chances really weren’t that good.

“And also, I already was at a point where I really, really missed winning. I began not really looking forward to the race weekends so much, which is a great shame because motorsport is my life — it’s the biggest passion that I have in life. My family and my friends are the most important things, but the thing that I’m most passionate about in life is motorsport.

“To then suddenly feel that you’re not quite looking forward to the races as much as you have been earlier is not a good feeling, and that’s when I thought it’s probably time to look at my options outside of Formula 1.

Kevin Magnussen (left) credits his veteran racer dad, Jan Magnussen, with keeping his eyes open to motorsports options outside of F1. Richard Dole/Motorsports Images

“I know that there’s a lot of very, very cool things out there because I’ve been exposed to it in a way because of my dad. I’ve been at these races, I’m aware of the things outside of Formula 1 — I think a lot of drivers in Formula 1 walk around with their blinders on and they don’t really see other things than Formula 1.

“They think it’s just Formula 1, but I’ve been exposed to it, I’ve been at the races, I’ve seen the passion that my dad has for all sorts of other forms of motorsport — whether that be IndyCar, Le Mans, DTM, NASCAR, he’s done it all.

“So I’ve always known that I’ve wanted to do other things and I always looked forward to that time. I knew there would be a day when Formula 1 would come to an end for me, and that then I would want to try all these other things that I dream about. It became more and more tempting to move on.

“Of course, my main goal since I was a kid was to become world champion in Formula 1. That was my ultimate goal, the thing that I dreamed about at night, waking up in the morning thinking. ‘I’ve got to do it, I can do this.’ And to suddenly see that come to an end is a really strange feeling, because it’s such a big part of me.

“It’s kind of, the child that I was, was all about that. So it’s kind of like closing the chapter to my childhood in a way; seeing my Formula 1 career come to an end is like seeing my childhood come to an end. So that feels a bit odd, but at the same time I’m really, really looking forward to getting back to real racing again, like thinking about race wins and going to cool tracks.

“I’ve realized how much I’ve missed all the… I want to say little things, but they’re not little things! Like the tracks, the cool tracks, the sounds of race cars, the racing and the winning and all of the things I was passionate about growing up as a kid. Formula 1 is awesome in so many ways — it’s so relentless. It’s the fastest cars on earth, the best engineers, the biggest R&D setups, there’s no compromises anywhere. Even just driving these cars is a massive experience, but there’s a lot of things that I miss and I look forward to getting back to now.”