Former Haas Formula 1 driver Kevin Magnussen says his first test in the Ganassi-run Cadillac IMSA prototype has shown him that modern F1 “lacks a bit of soul”.
Magnussen has been a consistent presence in the F1 paddock since 2014, completing a total of six full campaigns with McLaren, Renault and Haas.
But the one-time F1 podium finisher was left out of Haas’s F1 line-up for 2021 as it opted for an all-rookie roster, and found refuge in the United States-based sportscar series IMSA.
On Monday, Magnussen got to drive the Cadillac DPi-V.R he will be campaigning in IMSA this year for the first time at a section of the Sebring circuit.
Speaking to US racing journalist Marshall Pruett on Pruett’s podcast, Magnussen described the experience as “dream come true” – due to having long followed his father Jan Magnussen’s exploits in US-based prototype racing.
He also indicated he found the US racing scene an upgrade on F1 in terms of things like “the sound and the smells and the looks, the aesthetics of the car”, adding: “I think Americans have got that as such an integrated part of sport, and I think I’ve just missed that and I didn’t realise how much I missed it.”
“It’s been awesome to drive a real race car again – I really think I’ve been driving an airplane, basically, for the last six-seven years,” Magnussen said.
“Which is awesome, driving a Formula 1 car is awesome, it’s got a lot of grip and a lot of power, it is great fun – but it lacks a little bit of, like, soul.
“I don’t know how to put it. There’s something missing. F1 used to have that more, I think lately they’ve lost a bit of that – so coming back and driving a car like this, the Cadillac DPi, it’s been a real kind of eye-opener.”
And though Magnussen only drove a section of the Sebring test, due to IndyCar testing going on concurrently, he said it too was a change of pace compared to F1.
“This is my kind of racing, I really like the challenge of these super-bumpy tracks that have inconsistent kerbs, you know – in F1 you get used to these spec kerbs, that are used everywhere, every track you come to, it’s exactly the same kerb that the FIA put in everywhere.
“All the tracks become, like, the same. And the character gets lost a little bit, and I think when you come here, at Sebring, there’s no track that has character like this one.”
Magnussen will make his IMSA debut in the Daytona 24 Hours, partnering full-season team-mate Renger van der Zande and Ganassi’s reigning IndyCar champion Scott Dixon.
Magnussen’s ex-F1 peer Marcus Ericsson, who drives for Ganassi in IndyCar, has not been formally confirmed as completing the line-up for the car, but features on the preliminary entry list alongside Magnussen, Dixon and van der Zande.