Kevin Magnussen claims the maiden pole position of his career in Formula One, also a first for his team, Haas F1, on a drizzly Friday at the legendary Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Dane driver Kevin Magnussen, who has 139 Grand Prix starts under his name and a best qualifying career position of fourth, broke new ground at Interlagos, mastering his chances during an unusual qualifying session for the Sprint Race in Brazil.
A nearly speechless Magnussen, 30, who rejoined the series in 2022, said: “It’s incredible. I want to say thank you to Gene Haas, Guenther, and the whole team for taking me back on and giving me the opportunity to have a day like this - I’m so chuffed.”
“The team put me out in the pitlane as the first car, and that was the game-changer. It gave me the best piece of track as it started to rain and we got pole. It was the longest minute of my life, trying to stay calm as it looked like it was going to be wet, but you never know. I’m so happy.”
The 21st round of the 2022 FIA Formula One World Championship also marks 50 years of Formula One in Brazil, the country of some of the greatest champions in the series’ history, such as the singular Ayrton Senna, Emerson Fittipaldi or Nelson Piquet.
The season’s penultimate round, the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, is a Sprint weekend in which FP1 and Sprint Qualifying take place on Friday, with the latter setting the grid for Saturday’s Sprint Race.
The results of the 24-lap Sprint will determine the order for the Grand Prix on Sunday.
Time to Dance in the Rain
It is for a reason Sao Paulo owns the nickname ‘Terra da Garoa’ (land of drizzle); the weather can surprise you at any time during the day, anywhere across the city, spanning 1,521 km2 with over 12 million inhabitants in its metropolitan region.
Many memorable Formula One racing weekends staged on Brazilian soil have taken place in wet conditions. And the forecast promises to keep challenging teams and drivers throughout the weekend.
Q1 set off on damp conditions, however, as the track dried out, the intermediate tyres gave room to the soft slicks.
British driver Lando Norris and his McLaren MCL36 made the best of it, finishing on top of the timesheets with a lap time of 1:13.106s, followed by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Alpine’s Fernando Alonso.
The fifteen drivers who qualified for Q2 changed positions constantly, but ultimately, the two-time world champion, Max Verstappen, emerged on top of the standings.
The Ferrari of Carlos Sainz Jr. and Charles Leclerc followed, ending second and third, respectively.
Meanwhile, off the spotlight, Magnussen advanced to Q3, ending the session in seventh place.
The Dane driver positioned his car first on the pit lane exit ahead of the Top 10 shootout, wearing slick tyres.
The strategy proved crucial, combining his impressive flying lap effort, which placed him on top of the timesheets (1:11.674s) while still on dry asphalt.
Meanwhile, Ferrari opted for an opposite strategy to the other nine drivers on contention, sending Leclerc on intermediates, betting on the rain to come down during the out lap. But the gamble would cost the Monegasque driver high.
The rain held off until the drivers set off their second flying lap, and that’s when with eight minutes remaining to the end of Q3, Mercedes’ George Russell beach his car in the gravel at Turn 5, bringing out a red flag.
When the session resumed, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez exited the pits looking to record a faster time, albeit the track conditions would prevent him and any of the drivers from improving.
Verstappen will start the Sprint in second place, while Russell and Norris share the second row. Sainz locked the fifth place while teammate Leclerc finished 10th.
Magnussen’s teammate Mick Schumacher qualified 20th for the 24-lap Sprint race.
“It’s a great moment for Haas F1 Team. We’ve waited seven years for this and we work hard,” Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team, outlined.
Adding: “You have to be in the right place at the right time, and I think we didn’t luck into this, we worked hard to be there. When it came to it, Kevin pulled the lap off and was better than the others out there in difficult conditions.”
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