Kevin Magnussen said a Formula One return felt impossible until Haas boss Guenther Steiner asked him to come back as Nikita Mazepin’s replacement.
Magnussen, who left Haas and F1 at the end of 2020, was confirmed back at Haas on Wednesday, ahead of this week’s preseason test in Bahrain.
It was a shock return, none more so for Magnussen himself, who was mentally at peace with the idea of never going back.
“I was in a happy place when Guenther called me, a good place,” Magnussen said.
“2021 was really enjoyable for me, I had a daughter, moved back to Denmark, did a season in IMSA which I enjoyed a lot too, had fun, did an IndyCar race, did Le Mans with my Dad, so I wasn’t really thinking about F1 a lot.
He then referenced his lack of sponsorship, saying: “I kind of truly accepted that F1 was a closed chapter, but then of course I saw Mazepin was out of Haas, I didn’t think I had a chance to go in there because I still don’t bring a lot other than just my driving skills to a team, so I thought that it was still not going to be a possibility.”
Magnussen had given several interviews over the past year saying that he had no desire to return to F1 if it was to come to a backmarking or midfield team, saying he wanted to win races, having spent his final two races in a Haas car at the back of the field.
Although the competitive order for the season is unknown it is unlikely Haas will be the team to beat this season.
When asked what made him change his mind, Magnussen said: “I don’t know but I did. Very quickly!
“I think it’s one thing saying all that stuff when you don’t have an opportunity to go to F1, then when you actually sit with an opportunity to go back it’s different. It’s also a way of coping, there’s no reason to say I want to go back, you get asked a lot and I got tired of those questions so it’s easier to deal with it if you say I’m looking forward and I’ve moved on, but then when you get an opportunity you take it.”
When Mazepin’s tenure with the team was confirmed to be over Steiner only had one driver in mind as his replacement, calling Magnussen as the Dane prepared to go on holiday to Miami with his family.
“When he called me I said yes immediately,” Magnussen said. “Then after I then thought about it! When he asked me straight away I just said yes, then you know, these obstacles became quite clear that I had contracts with other teams, all these thoughts about do I need this, but I felt the first initial feeling I had when Gunther called was so telling.”
Two of those obstacles were an IMSA contract with Chip Ganassi Racing and a WEC contract with Peugeot, both of which Magnussen had to get out of before the move was confirmed.