ANTHONY ROWLINSON “Magnussen has an interest in F1 history”
evin Magnussen has a sense of humour. I know this because on the Friday afternoon of the Australian GP weekend I tweeted a picture of a half-peeled banana in reply to a Renault Sport shot of K-mag walking through the paddock in his top-down race suit.
Seemed to me Magnussen, dressed in yellow and off-white, looked like a ripe Fyffe. Happily, so did he and he went on to retweet the shot of himself alongside his fruity doppelganger, with the result that for a couple of hours it became a bit of a ‘thing’ on Twitter.
Enough with the fruit already! How about another not-immediately-apparent K-mag characteristic? He has a strong interest in F1’s history, both the cars and the men that drove them. His racing hero, for example, is none other than Stirling Moss. Somewhat of a surprise for a 23-year-old, who might be expected to idolise a Schumacher, a Hakkinen or even an Alonso. But no, for Magnussen, it’s Sir Stirl all the way: “The big one for me is Stirling Moss,” he confirms. “He was just a real racer. He raced every weekend he could – more than 80 races a year. And he was earning like £300 per race, so he did it only because he liked racing. That was his life and he was having so much fun with it. It was the same with Jim Clark and Graham Hill and all these guys. I love the fact that they were in it only because they loved it.”
It emerges, as we chat, that Kevin has met his idol and, contrary to urban legend warning against such encounters, he found himself suitably star-stuck: “He’s such a legend. And still totally up to date. He was asking me really strong questions about the rules and technical details. He’s completely on it.”
It’s refreshing and rare to hear an F1 youngster talk with passion about his racing forebears, not because the past was any better or worse than the present; simply that it displays a sense of perspective that has surely stood him in good stead through a troubled start to his F1 career.
He entered with a bang with a second place for Mclaren on his debut in Melbourne, 2014, but was dropped to a reserve driver role at the end of the season. Last year was spent in the shadows, and his deal with Renault was truly last-gasp as the takeover of the outgoing Lotus team was confirmed during the off-season.
Not that any of that matters now. He’s just delighted to be back in the game – and with a team whose values perfectly match his own: “It’s just pure racing at Enstone, like a massive F3 team. It’s all about racing. There’s no bulls**t, just a focus on performance and everything is about F1, which I really enjoy. They are there for the race car and the drivers and the team, and they just want to win. I really enjoy that.”