The Dane was offered a last-minute call up to make an unexpected F1 comeback on the eve of the 2022 season and replace the axed Nikita Mazepin, who had his contract terminated in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Magnussen had spent a year out of F1 after losing his seat at the end of 2020 and had been preparing to contest the upcoming IMSA campaign with Chip Ganassi and the World Endurance Championship with Peugeot. 

“I was in a happy place when Guenther [Steiner, Haas team principal] 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. 

“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.” 

His respective contracts with Chip Ganassi and Peugeot provided obstacles to overcome, but Magnussen was always clear about what he wanted to do once the call came from Steiner. 

“When he called me I said yes immediately,” Magnussen explained. “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.”

Magnussen had previously insisted that he had no interest returning to F1 for anything less than a race-winning team, but Haas is unlikely to find itself at the sharp-end of the grid in 2022, despite a major technical regulation overhaul. 

When asked what made him change his mind, Magnussen replied: “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.”