Kevin Magnussen admits that he had expected the new Haas F1 car to be slower, having not been fully aware of the regulation changes before his unexpected return to the sport.
The Danish driver parted ways with the team at the end of the 2020 campaign, and since then has competed in other motorsport categories such as the American IMSA series and IndyCar.
Magnussen was originally set to continue in IMSA in 2022, as well as racing for Peugeot in the World Endurance Championship, but made a surprise return to Formula 1 following Nikita Mazepin's exit from the Haas team.
After signing a multi-year contract to reunite with the American Formula 1 outfit, Magnussen was given his first taste of the VF-22 at pre-season testing in Bahrain last week.
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Magnussen: I didn't fully understand the new F1 regulations
Having been away from the sport for nearly a year and a half, Magnussen enjoyed getting to drive an F1 car again.
When asked about his first impressions of Haas' 2022 challenger, the Dane told media including RacingNews365.com: "Pretty good. It's fun to drive.
"I've been out of [a] Formula 1 car for a year and a half. It's just super cool to be back in such a fast race car. I did some [qualifying simulations] yesterday and it just felt super cool."
One thing that has taken Magnussen by surprise is the speed of the VF-22. Given that he has not been involved with Formula 1 for some time, the driver admits that he was not fully aware of how the new technical regulations would affect the cars before making his sudden F1 comeback.
"[The car is] very fast still," Magnussen explained.
"I expected it to be slower. I've got to admit, I didn't really fully understand the new regulations yet, because I had nothing to do with it so far!
"So my expectation was that it was going to be a lot slower, and actually, the lap time I did last night [on Day 2 of the test] was only eight tenths slower than Mick [Schumacher's] qualy lap from last year.
"So it's not that much slower than the old Haas, at least, and it's still super cool to drive."
Comeback to F1 feels 'as good as the first time'
Magnussen first made his debut in F1 back in 2014 with McLaren, and he believes that his 2022 comeback to the sport feels just as good, if not better, than when he was given his opportunity as a rookie.
"It means a lot," the Haas driver said.
"Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport, and has been my dream ever since I was a little kid. I've had a few seasons in Formula 1 already, but this comeback feels like the dream coming true once again.
"[I've] kind of been in this situation before, the first time I got an F1 drive. I was, of course, super excited and happy, but it almost feels like as good as the first time, because it was so unexpected. Such a surprise.
"I had no idea I was even on the radar coming back to Formula 1, and then this situation happens, and I get the drive. That just feels super cool."
F1 Podcast: All you need to know after the second pre-season test
At the end of the first pre-season test of 2022 in Barcelona,
Dieter Rencken and Thomas Maher discuss the on- and off-track
developments in Bahrain.