Guenther Steiner says Kevin Magnussen returned to the FIA Formula 1 World Championship in 2022 ‘mentally a lot stronger’ than he was during his first spell in the sport.
The Dane returned to the Haas F1 Team after a year away from Formula 1 after the team had opted to replace both himself and Romain Grosjean with Mick Schumacher and Nikita Mazepin in 2021.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine spelled the end of Mazepin’s stay with the team ahead of the 2022 season, and Haas opted to call upon the experience of Magnussen, who had spent four years with the team previously after previous spells with the McLaren F1 Team and Renault F1 Team.
The Dane had been set to race in the FIA World Endurance Championship with Peugeot Sport prior to the phone call from Haas, and he had also made his NTT IndyCar Series debut in 2021.
Magnussen took advantage of the opportunity and a much-improved Haas car – the team put all their focus in 2021 on their 2022 VF-22 – to secure an excellent fifth place in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, and he ended the year with a maiden pole position for the São Paulo Grand Prix.
Steiner, the Team Principal at Haas, says Magnussen becoming a father and being asked to return both contributed to his new mentality, and he has the self-confidence and belief to improve on his driving skills as well.
“It’s age, being a dad, being called back instead of begging to get a seat is a different story as well,” said Steiner to Motorsport.com. “It plays with your mind as well.
“It gives a lot of confidence. This is a lot about how you are mentally strong. I think at the moment, he’s just mentally a lot stronger than he was years ago.”
Magnussen will be joined at Haas by Nico Hülkenberg in 2023 after Schumacher’s contract was not extended, and Steiner says he believes the two drivers have the mental strength to take the team forward.
“I think so,” said Steiner. “That is our hope. That’s why we did the decision.”