Haas’s Kevin Magnussen takes sprint pole in Brazilian F1 GP shock

Fortune favoured the brave as from the gloom and damp of Interlagos, Kevin Magnussen burst through to take a remarkable sprint pole position for the São Paulo Grand Prix, the first of his career and the first for his Haas team.

This weekend’s sprint format means Magnussen will not necessarily be on the front of the grid for Sunday’s grand prix. He will start at the front for Saturday’s 24-lap dash, and will surely struggle to hold off the second-placed Max Verstappen.

Nevertheless, it was a terrific moment for the Danish driver. Dropped by Haas at the end of 2020, Magnussen was recalled by the team at the start of this season, to replace Russian driver Nikita Mazepin after the invasion of Ukraine.

Magnussen has stepped up as if he had never been away, and after 139 meetings finally has a pole position. He and the team celebrated with joyous abandon as Haas also claimed their first since entering the sport in 2016.

They have 143 races behind them and this moment will last long in the memory, finally excising their record for the longest run as a constructor in F1 without claiming pole. It was deserved for all that mother nature played her part. Magnussen had already done superbly to put his Haas into Q3 and then grabbed his chance.

The team put him out first at the start of the final session of qualifying in damp conditions with heavier rain threatening. His team suggested he pit to wait it out, but he instead he set out to lay down a time anyway.

It was a bold decision and Magnussen executed it brilliantly. Eight other cars were also out at that point, all on the slick tyres. But Magnussen was the best of them, and only a minute after they set their times George Russell went off, beached his Mercedes in the gravel and the session was red-flagged. When it began again, the rain was teeming down and Magnussen’s time could not be bettered.

“I have never ever felt like this in my life,” he said. “I don’t know what to say, the team put me out on track at the right moment. It is incredible. [Tomorrow] is Maximum attack, let’s go for something funny.”

It was a special moment for K-Mag, as he is known, who was almost crying with joy afterwards and celebrated with a viking-esque enthusiasm by leaping on his car and then embracing team principal Guenther Steiner.

“It was not luck, it was deserved from the driver, from the team,” said Steiner. “Kevin putting a lap down when it was needed. When it rains soup, you have to have a spoon and we had the spoon today.”

Russell was lucky in that, despite running off, he retains the third place he held at that point while his teammate Lewis Hamilton was in eighth. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was fifth but will take a five-place grid penalty in Sunday’s race because of an engine change.

Lando Norris was fourth for McLaren, Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso sixth and seventh for Alpine. Sergio Pérez was ninth for Red Bull and Charles Leclerc in tenth for Ferrari.

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