Sao Paulo Grand Prix qualifying: Magnussen takes pole position


Kevin Magnussen caused a sensation at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix by qualifying his Haas car on pole position for Saturday’s sprint race.

The Dane, who returned to Formula 1 this season after a one-year hiatus, took his and his team’s first pole with a remarkable performance at Interlagos.

Magnussen nailed the only dry lap before a red flag, during which rain started to fall.

He will start Saturday’s sprint race ahead of Red Bull’s Max Verstappen.

Mercedes’ George Russell was third, with team-mate Lewis Hamilton in eighth.

And there was an embarrassment for Ferrari, who made the latest in a series of strategy blunders this season by sending Charles Leclerc out on intermediate tyres for the start of the final session.

Ferrari allowed themselves to be tricked by the weather forecast that predicted rain, but it did not come soon enough, and there were recriminations over the radio as Leclerc realised everyone else had managed to do a lap and he would be starting 10th.

Magnussen was disbelieving, grinning ear to ear in the car as it became apparent the weather was too wet for anyone to improve once the session resumed, and then jumping out of the car and celebrating with his team afterwards.

Kevin Magnussen alongside Max Verstappen (left) and George Russell (right)

How did that happen?

It was a stunning performance from Magnussen, in what has been the second-slowest car in the field this season, and one that will go down as one of the biggest shocks in F1 history.

Haas got him out on track first, so he had a clear lap, and he just nailed the lap and ended up 0.207 seconds faster than two-time champion Verstappen, who admitted he had ruined his own chances by locking up at Turn Eight.

Before he had returned to the pits, he asked the team where he was. When he was told: “P1”, he replied: “You’re kidding me. I’ve never felt this way in my life.”

He then cautioned the team not to celebrate too soon, but when the rain came down during the break, his pole was set in concrete.

“I don’t know what to say,” Magnussen said afterwards. “The team put me out on track at exactly the right moment. We were the first out in the pit lane and did a pretty decent lap and we’re on pole. lt’s incredible.”

Magnussen thanked the Haas team, who brought him back this year and gave him a chance to revive his career after dropping him at the end of 2020 when they jettisoned Russian Nikita Mazepin following the invasion of Ukraine.

“Thank you to the team, to (owner) Gene Haas, Gunther (Steiner, the team principal),” he said, “for taking me back and giving me the opportunity to have a day like this. I am so chuffed.” (BBC)

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