F1 qualifying: Kevin Magnussen claims maiden pole in 100th start for Haas, who become first American team to do so since 1975

After 140 races in Formula 1, Kevin Magnussen claimed his maiden pole position in a rainy qualifying session for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Magnussen’s team, Haas, is the only American constructor currently competing in F1 and is the first U.S.-based outfit to claim a pole position since the 1975 British Grand Prix. Denmark, Magnussen’s birthplace, becomes the 24th country to produce an F1 pole sitter.

Haas sent Magnussen out first to start the final qualifying session on intermediate tires with heavier rain incoming. Magnussen posted a 1:11.674 lap time before a spin from Mercedes’ George Russell brought out a red flag. In the interim, the rain intensified, meaning slower wet-weather tires would be required to navigate the Interlagos circuit, effectively locking the field in place when the red flag came out.

“I don’t know what to say," Magnussen told Sky Sports presenter Naomi Schiff. "The team put out on track at exactly the right moment. … And I did a pretty decent lap. It’s incredible.”

Despite the wet weather, fans in the grandstands were rapturous in their approval for the underdog story, only growing louder as the time ticked away in the session and the realization that no one would be able to improve their lap times set in. Even Sky Sports broadcasters David Croft and Martin Brundle couldn't hide their giddiness at watching one of the more popular, but unsuccessful drivers on the grid score a moment of glory.

In an odd twist, Magnussen may not get to start Sunday's race from the first grid position as this weekend is one of three this season to have the "sprint" — an abbreviated Saturday race to set the grid for the Grand Prix.

Magnussen has had quite the F1 journey, from finishing second in his first career start at the 2014 Australian Grand Prix, to losing that McLaren seat after just one season, sitting out a year, then getting back into the sport with Renault, the move to Haas in 2017 and eventually losing that seat prior to the 2021 season. It was only due to Russian driver Nikita Mazepin being sacked after the invasion of Ukraine on the eve of the season that the Haas seat re-opened, paving Magnussen’s way back into the sport for a second time.

“Thank you to Gene Haas,” Magnussen said “It’s been an incredible journey.”

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 11: Kevin Magnussen of Denmark driving the (20) Haas F1 VF-22 Ferrari on track during qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 11, 2022 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Kevin Magnussen was tops in F1 qualifying for the first time in his career. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) (Jared C. Tilton via Getty Images)

Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying results

  1. Kevin Magnussen, Haas-Ferrari

  2. Max Verstappen, Red Bull-RBPT

  3. George Russell, Mercedes

  4. Lando Norris, McLaren

  5. Carlos Sainz Jr., Ferrari

  6. Esteban Ocon, Alpine-Renault

  7. Fernando Alonso, Alpine

  8. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes

  9. Sergio Perez, Red Bull-RBPT

  10. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

  11. Alexander Albon, Williams-Mercedes

  12. Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri-RBPT

  13. Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin-Mercedes

  14. Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren

  15. Lance Stroll, Aston Martin-Mercedes

  16. Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo-Ferrari

  17. Nicholas Latifi, Williams-Mercedes

  18. Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo-Ferrari

  19. Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri-RBPT

  20. Mick Schumacher, Haas-Ferrari