Kevin Magnussen was beaming after his performance in qualifying in Austria and even the prospect of a grid demotion on Sunday couldn’t wipe the smile off the Dane’s face.

The Haas driver steadily made it through the first two segments of the Saturday afternoon session, the US outfit’s VF-19 running consistently, with few complaints from its driver about its tyres, a rare occurrence this season –

In the final top-ten shootout, Magnussen clocked in fifth, just over a second behind pace setter Charles Leclerc.

Asked by Sky F1 where his impressive performance had come from, Magnussen was as puzzled as his audience.

“I have no idea, it just came alive on that last run,” said the Dane.

“So happy because we have that penalty and we’re starting 10th , but after FP3 we lost the gearbox and had to change it.

“All the guys in the garage just flew onto the car, and even the other side of the garage came in and worked incredibly fast to get ready. Even with the penalty it was a real team effort, I’m so happy.”

©Haas

Given Haas’ inability this year to get a grip on the random behavior of its car – or rather its tyres – Magnussen stressed the importance of making the most of any window of opportunity that presents itself.

“The car’s been feeling good all weekend,” he added.

“It seems at this time with the tyres and all, that it’s so up and down and unpredictable. And when the car comes alive, when the tyres come alive, you just have to take it, be there and get the lap in.

“It’s so frustrating because these guys are not stupid, they’re good engineers.

“Even though we try a lot of different things, one weekend one set-up will work and the tyres will switch on, and we’ll take that and try to apply it in another weekend and it just doesn’t work.

“It doesn’t really make sense when it doesn’t work, it’s like you’re chasing a moving target all the time.”

In addition to his positive performance, Magnussen said the session was another reminder of the incredible thrill and buzz that qualifying brings about for a driver who outperforms.

“It’s the best feeling in the world when you have a result like this,” he said.

“There’s something about qualifying, it’s so intense, it’s only a minute, you get it and you’re looking at the screens on the track trying to see if the others have improved.

“It’s just so exciting. I’m so extremely happy, we didn’t expect this!”

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