LONDON (REUTERS) - Danish driver Kevin Magnussen sealed a surprise Formula One comeback with Haas on Wednesday (March 9) after signing a multi-year deal to replace sacked Russian driver Nikita Mazepin, the US-owned team said.
The 29-year-old, who has 119 grand prix starts to his credit, raced with the Ferrari-powered team from 2017 to 2020 and will partner German Mick Schumacher, son of seven-times world champion Michael.
Mazepin's contract was terminated last week after Russia invaded Ukraine.
The season starts in Bahrain on March 20 after a final three-day test this week.
"When looking for a driver who could bring value to the team, not to mention a wealth of Formula One experience, Kevin was a straightforward decision for us," said team boss Guenther Steiner in a statement.
"Kevin's immediate availability means we can tap into him as a resource for pre-season testing alongside both Mick Schumacher and (reserve) Pietro Fittipaldi."
Brazilian Fittipaldi will do half a day in the car on Thursday before handing over to Magnussen and Schumacher.
Magnussen started out in Formula One with McLaren in 2014, finishing second on his debut in Australia.
He sat out 2015 as team reserve and raced for Renault in 2016 before switching to Haas where his best result was fifth place in Bahrain and Austria in 2018.
"I was obviously very surprised but equally very excited to receive the call," said the Dane.
"I was looking in a different direction regarding my commitments for 2022 but the opportunity to return to compete in Formula One, and with a team I know extremely well, was simply too appealing."
Magnussen had been due to race for Peugeot in world endurance as well as US-based Chip Ganassi Racing in sportscars, and he thanked both for releasing him.
"I've been briefed as much as possible on the development of the VF-22 and the potential in the package. There's work to do but I'm excited to be a part of it. I can't wait to get back behind the wheel of a Formula One car in Bahrain," he said.
Mazepin and Schumacher had been an all-new line-up last season but failed to score any points as the team concentrated its resources on 2022 and radical new regulations aimed at making racing more competitive.
Haas ended up last in the standings.