Kevin Magnussen’s message on team radio said it all.
“You’re kidding? You’re kidding. You are kidding! You are f***ing kidding me,” he said when told by his Haas race engineer he has pole position for Sunday’s sprint race.
“I’ve never felt like this in my life. I know, don’t celebrate yet. Don’t celebrate yet.”
Magnussen took full advantage of dramatically changing wet conditions at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix to secure a sensational maiden pole position in his 100th Formula One appearance for the Haas team in Saturday morning’s qualifying session.
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As heavy rain descended on the Interlagos circuit, the final Q3 session ended in euphoric uproar with the popular and modest 30-year-old Dane sitting in his car celebrating while the clock ran down.
He became the first Danish pole-sitter and the first to achieve the feat for the Haas team in his 140th Grand Prix and his team’s 143rd.
The team could barely believe it.
“I don’t know what to say. The team put me out on track at exactly the right moment. We’re on pole. It’s incredible,” he said when interviewed after the session.
“It is incredible. Thank you to Gene Haas and Guenther and the whole team for this opportunity.
“It has just been an amazing journey. It is incredible, thank you. Maximum attack, let’s go for something funny.”
Magnussen clocked a best lap in one minute and 11.674 seconds before a final rainstorm wreaked havoc during which Mercedes’ George Russell crashed out and was left in a gravel trap.
He also became the fourth driver to claim a maiden pole position this year, following Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez and George Russell.
World champion Max Verstappen of Red Bull was second quickest ahead of Russell and McLaren’s Lando Norris.
Carlos Sainz of Ferrari was fifth ahead of Esteban Ocon and his Alpine teammate two-time champion Fernando Alonso, seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes, Segio Perez of Red Bull and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.
Verstappen and Russell warmly congratulated the Dane who appeared almost bemused by his feat.
After a bright, warm morning, qualifying began in damp conditions, following a rainstorm, with heavy clouds overhead and all of the early Q1 runners venturing out on ‘intermediate’ tyres.
Verstappen, Alonso and Ocon chose to delay their first foray while Hamilton reported ‘it is quite slippery’.
Leclerc set the early pace before Verstappen joined the fray and, almost instantly, went top by two-tenths.
Alonso then took over before Pierre Gasly of Alpha Tauri switched to ‘slicks’, a bold move. Initially, he struggled. Hamilton went top before Gasly’s gambled paid off as he went fastest, sending everyone in for ‘slicks’.
This swept in a rush of increasingly fast laps as Williams’ Nicholas Latifi, Norris and then Alex Albon of Williams clocked the quickest lap, leaving Ferrari looking both slow-witted in making a decision for ‘slicks’ and on-track as Leclerc sought to escape the cut.
Leclerc’s frustrations began to boil over when he was blocked off by the slower Yuki Tsunoda as the Ferrari gun desperately tried to get out of the danger zone.
“Yuki, come on,” he said over the radio.
“What a joke, what a f***ing joke.”
He had been the only driver to come out on inters and it proved to be a blunder as the rain stayed away.
He later pitted for slicks and appeared less than pleased on the team radio.
“Did everybody complete a lap on the slicks,” he asked.
“Yes they did,” his team answered back.
“Nice, beautiful. F***ing beautiful,” he replied.
Sao Paulo Grand Prix Qualifying Result, Top 10
1) Kevin Magnussen, Haas
2) Max Verstappen, Red Bull
3) George Russell, Mercedes
4) Lando Norris, McLaren
5) Carlos Sainz, Ferrari
6) Esteban Ocon, Alpine
7) Fernando Alonso, Alpine
8) Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
9) Sergio Perez, Red Bull
10) Charles Leclerc, Ferrari