Kevin Magnussen admitted his surprise at the speed of the 2022 cars, expecting them to be considerably slower than when he last raced in 2020.
Magnussen made a shock return to the F1 paddock with Haas replacing ousted Nikita Mazepin, returning in style by setting the fastest time on day two of pre-season testing in Bahrain.
As the Dane took his first laps since leaving Haas at the end of 2020, he expressed his joy at being behind the wheel of an F1 car again but could not hide his surprise at how quickly they were.
The Dane left the team before last campaign and took to the wheel in IMSA with Chip Ganassi and had signed up for Peugeot’s next World Endurance Championship programme.
But after completing testing ahead of next weekend’s first grand prix, Magnussen called the Haas “pretty good” and “nice to drive”.
“It’s been a year and a half since I got out of a Formula 1 car, it’s just super cool to be back in such a fast race car,” he added.
“I’ve done a few qualified sims [on day two] and it was super cool, very fast!
“I expected it to be slower, I have to admit I don’t really understand the rules yet because I have nothing to do with it so far.”
Magnussen compared his best lap time to that of team-mate Mick Schumacher in qualifying at the same circuit last year, not expecting to be as close to 2021 times.
“I expected it to be a lot slower, in fact the time I did last night was only eight tenths slower than Mick’s qualifying lap last year here.
“So not much slower than the old Haas at least, still super cool to drive a Formula 1 car.”
Formula 1 returns ‘as if the dream came true again’
Magnussen jumped at the chance to return to the paddock despite his endurance racing commitments.
Expressing why he decided to turn his back on factory training at a World Championship, the 29-year-old explained: “It means a lot.
“Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport and it’s been my dream since I was little. I’ve had a few seasons in Formula 1 before, but this comeback feels like the dream is coming true again.
“I’ve been in this situation before, the first time I got behind the wheel of an F1 car I was super excited and happy, but it’s almost as good as the first time because it was so unexpected and such a surprise.
“I had no idea I was even on the radar to come back to F1, so this situation happens and I get behind the wheel. It’s super cool.”