F1’s Kevin Magnussen: ‘I’m not here to make friends. It’s a race and that’s it’

first_img Lewis Hamilton: Sebastian Vettel would not want to be in the same team as me “I am not here to make friends,” he says. “I am not here to please anyone. I am here to get results. What he says doesn’t matter to me. I don’t care what he thinks. What matters to me is that I get the most out of myself and my racing.”Hülkenberg proved incapable of ignoring the issue and went on to call him a “wannabe Verstappen” and wryly added that having “hot-headed and sensitive” drivers was good for the show.Magnussen remains insistent he has no regrets and that there would be no apologies. “I don’t have to defend myself to him,” he says. “I really don’t have to. Its a race on track and that’s it. I don’t care about anything else.”Magnussen is no stranger to controversy. He has packed an awful lot into a what has been a deceptively short F1 career. Taken on as part of McLaren’s young driver programme, he made his debut for the team alongside Jenson Button in 2014. His second place in the opening race that year in Australia was the last podium the team scored. He was demoted to reserve driver the next season, when Fernando Alonso returned to the team, and was released at the end of 2015. One season with Renault followed before he joined Haas this year. They have just confirmed he will be driving for them next year – the first time he will have concluded two racing seasons in a row for the same team. Support The Guardian Eyes down for the run-in as F1’s season reconvenes at Spa interviews Read more Share on WhatsApp Since you’re here… He has, he insists, made the most of every opportunity he has been given. “F1 has been my dream since I was a kid,” he says. “I am here. That feeling of having achieved that and a step in my life’s dream of winning the championship – there is no way I wouldn’t work extremely hard – I put the time in. I feel like Haas is a much better fit for me, it is less political and there is room for me to be me.”With F1 resuming with the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday after the sport’s summer break, he currently trails his team-mate Romain Grosjean by seven points and has a best finish of seventh. But now Magnussen has a solid season behind him, it is a position he expects to improve upon as the team attempt to secure seventh place in the constructors’ championship. His goal remains a seat at one of the top teams for a tilt at the title, a target he believes is still achievable by proving himself at Haas but not, he insists, at the cost of his fiercely independent character. “I say what I think,” he concludes. “I will not change myself or my opinions for anyone.” Kevin Magnussen cannot help but smile when reminded of his riposte to Nico Hülkenberg after the pair had clashed at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Magnussen discarded years of careful media training with his childishly gleeful retort of “suck my balls” when Hülkenberg berated him for his driving. Magnussen is unrepentant but the grin swiftly disappears, to be replaced with a look of cold conviction. Although his flippancy hit the headlines the young driver is more concerned with emphasising just how seriously he takes his role in Formula One.The 24-year-old had squeezed Hülkenberg wide in Budapest and was given a five-second penalty for doing so. Hülkenberg was still fuming about the incident after the race and interrupted an interview Magnussen was conducting to accuse him of being “the most unsporting driver”. Magnussen’s reply was impudent but he is unafraid of a fight, a character trait reflected on and off the track. It has given the Dane a level of confidence and allowed him to relax and race freely; he is finally under no pressure to earn his place. As Hülkenberg discovered, it has not, however, made Magnussen any less tenacious. “I don’t see myself as a tough person off the track, I see myself as friendly, open and calm,” he says. “But on track I do my best and I don’t give anything away. I try to push the limits. Maybe I am uncompromising on track. The stewards judge whether I’m fair or not, it is my job to extract the most from the rules and circumstances. I admit sometimes I go over the limit but sometimes I don’t and I get results. You need to be pushing the limits and I am not going to change that.”That he pushes on the track has been clear enough but his mindset off it has been called into question. That second for McLaren remains his best result and his work ethic was questioned by a senior figure within the team. The single season with Renault ended with recriminations after the managing director, Cyril Abiteboul, said he lacked discipline and commitment.Indeed, the claims were still doing the rounds this season, so much so that Magnussen’s current team principal, Guenther Steiner, backed his driver publicly last week, saying he had “never seen that he’s lacking effort or anything”. Sources within the team back up Steiner’s opinion, believing Magnussen is working hard and well because he is finally genuinely comfortable with the set-up at the American squad. He denies that he has ever shown a lack of focus. “When I was there McLaren was not a healthy place to be for a young driver,” he says. “McLaren at that time was a giant on the way down, people were panicking and under huge pressure and it was a very, very tense environment. To come in as a young guy with no experience and try to find your feet in F1, that was not the right environment to be in.” Motor sport Topics Formula One 2017 Share on Pinterest When I was there McLaren was not a healthy place to be for a young driver Share on LinkedIn Share on Facebook Read more Share on Twitter … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.We hope you will consider supporting us today. We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism that’s open and independent. Every reader contribution, however big or small, is so valuable. Support The Guardian from as little as $1 – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. Reuse this content Share via Email Formula One Share on Messengerlast_img

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