After 140 races in Formula 1, Kevin Magnussen claimed his maiden pole position in a rainy qualifying session for the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Magnussen’s team, Haas, is the only American constructor currently competing in F1 and is the first U.S.-based outfit to claim a pole position since the 1975 British Grand Prix. Denmark, Magnussen’s birthplace, becomes the 24th country to produce an F1 pole sitter.
Haas sent Magnussen out first to start the final qualifying session on intermediate tires with heavier rain incoming. Magnussen posted a 1:11.674 lap time before a spin from Mercedes’ George Russell brought out a red flag. In the interim, the rain intensified, meaning slower wet-weather tires would be required to navigate the Interlagos circuit, effectively locking the field in place when the red flag came out.
“I don’t know what to say," Magnussen told Sky Sports presenter Naomi Schiff. "The team put out on track at exactly the right moment. … And I did a pretty decent lap. It’s incredible.”
Despite the wet weather, fans in the grandstands were rapturous in their approval for the underdog story, only growing louder as the time ticked away in the session and the realization that no one would be able to improve their lap times set in. Even Sky Sports broadcasters David Croft and Martin Brundle couldn't hide their giddiness at watching one of the more popular, but unsuccessful drivers on the grid score a moment of glory.
In an odd twist, Magnussen may not get to start Sunday's race from the first grid position as this weekend is one of three this season to have the "sprint" — an abbreviated Saturday race to set the grid for the Grand Prix.
Magnussen has had quite the F1 journey, from finishing second in his first career start at the 2014 Australian Grand Prix, to losing that McLaren seat after just one season, sitting out a year, then getting back into the sport with Renault, the move to Haas in 2017 and eventually losing that seat prior to the 2021 season. It was only due to Russian driver Nikita Mazepin being sacked after the invasion of Ukraine on the eve of the season that the Haas seat re-opened, paving Magnussen’s way back into the sport for a second time.
“Thank you to Gene Haas,” Magnussen said “It’s been an incredible journey.”
Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying results
Kevin Magnussen, Haas-Ferrari
Max Verstappen, Red Bull-RBPT
George Russell, Mercedes
Lando Norris, McLaren
Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari
Esteban Ocon, Alpine-Renault
Fernando Alonso, Alpine
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
Sergio Perez, Red Bull-RBPT
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
Alexander Albon, Williams-Mercedes
Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri-RBPT
Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin-Mercedes
Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren
Lance Stroll, Aston Martin-Mercedes
Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo-Ferrari
Nicholas Latifi, Williams-Mercedes
Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo-Ferrari
Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri-RBPT
Mick Schumacher, Haas-Ferrari