Haas’ Kevin Magnussen just scored his first-ever pole position in Formula 1 during the Brazilian Grand Prix. Yes, I intended to write that sentence. It’s not April Fool’s Day. Kevin Magnussen is polesitter for Saturday’s sprint race.
Rain clouds threatened Interlagos during the first two qualifying sessions, but drops didn’t fall until the final session, Q3. As a result, those first laps on track in Q3 were absolutely critical — and so was the position in which drivers left the pit lane. Drivers lined up at pit exit in hopes of setting a fast lap before the rain came, and Haas managed to secure a front position. That gave Magnussen prime track position to set the fastest lap of the session.
With a handful of times on the board, rain began to fall — and Magnussen maintained that top slot: a 1:11.674.
Then, Mercedes’ George Russell lost control of his car and beached it in the gravel. Paired with weather, the session was red-flagged briefly; when it re-started, there was no way anyone could set a faster time. Magnussen beamed in the cockpit as he waited for the official call, which finally came just two minutes before the session ended.
“You’re kidding me?!” Magnussen said on the radio when being informed he was sitting in P1 at the time of the flag. “I’ve never felt like this!” Meanwhile, team principal Guenther Steiner was seen on camera chatting on the phone, a smile on his face.
Haas’ Magnussen will officially start on Saturday’s sprint race in first position followed by Max Verstappen and George Russell. The 24-lap race will be a short one, but if the weekend’s foul weather persists, Magnussen has a great chance of holding onto that position.
The Haas team may use Ferrari engines, but Ferrari proper had a dismal qualifying. Charles Leclerc was sent out onto the track on intermediate tires, the team betting on rain falling immediately. When that didn’t happen, Leclerc failed to set a time and will start the sprint race in 10th position.