Kevin Magnussen shocked Formula 1 in Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying by taking pole position for the sprint race at Interlagos.
It was the Danish driver’s first pole after 142 races, who celebrated by making faces for the cameras before the third qualifying session was over. Then he jumped on his car and hit the air in the drizzle. He gave his Haas team principal Guenther Steiner an emotional hug.
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“The team put me on the track at just the right time,” said a jubilant Magnussen.
When asked if he expected to earn a pole, he replied: “Not even close. It is unbelievable.”
Magnussen started in F1 in 2014 and returned to the series this year after a one-year absence as a replacement for Russian driver Nikita Mazepin.
On team radio, Magnussen was even more excited: “I’ve never felt like this in my life,” he said. Minutes earlier, when told he was in first position, he replied, “You’re kidding.”
Meanwhile, Haas teammate Mick Schumacher, who is still looking for a seat for next season, unsurprisingly finished 20th and last.
Steiner said on Thursday he has yet to decide whether Schumacher will race for the team next year, adding that he hopes a decision will be made next week. Schumacher has only earned 12 points this season. Magnussen has a paltry 24.
Magnussen was almost five seconds faster than Schumacher. World champion Max Verstappen was second by almost two tenths of a second. Mercedes’ George Russell came in third.
Qualifying was delayed by rain, which helped Magnussen. The last five minutes of the session were hit hard by the wet track.
Haas spoke with a touch of disbelief about Magnussen’s pole position: “What did we just do?” the team posed on Twitter. “That was a Viking performance!”
Friday’s results set the grid for Saturday’s sprint race, which will determine the starting positions for Sunday’s race at Interlagos.
Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, who will start fifth in the sprint, will receive a five-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race. The Spaniard has added a new combustion engine for the weekend, a penalty-inducing sixth of the season.
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, who is still fighting to secure second place in the drivers’ championship, was first in free practice earlier on Friday. He had a design on his helmet in collaboration with Disney.
“It’s for the Black Panther movie, a movie that represents a big part of my country,” the Mexican driver said. “The helmet itself is unique and I like it a lot.”
Perez starts the sprint, which is expected to go under the rain again, in ninth.
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