Danish racer Kevin Magnussen has rebuilt his reputation in Formula 1 this year, emerging as a smiling, but ruthless assassin – on the back of his best season in the sport, 56 points for ninth in the standings…  securing 10th place at the final round in Abu Dhabi.

He’s proven to be the right choice for American team Haas, which needed points from both cars – something its former driver, Esteban Gutiérrez, just couldn’t manage in 2016.

He’s also been an important challenger for teammate Romain Grosjean… who was the team’s primary choice when setting up the Ferrari-aligned outfit.

Across 21 races, Magnussen was just edged by Grosjean in qualifying, going 10-11. And 7-7 in races, when they could be compared. But he’s scored 19 more points, helping Haas to fifth in the constructors’ standings.

He’s also had fun doing it, as he explained exclusively to The Inside Line.

“I’ve really had a good time. Obviously we’ve scored some good points, which is the most important. And yeah, just generally been quite competitive. So that’s been really good.”

Naturally, it’s a strong campaign that has been assisted by a top car, with Haas’ VF-18 its most competitive – and the first the team has developed throughout a season, with the focus on reducing the time taken to bring update parts to the vehicle for better performance sooner.

…which has enabled him to score 37 more points in his second year with the squad, 11 scores from 21 races – for a 52.4 per cent strike rate.

Magnussen has also bloomed with stability, something that he didn’t have at McLaren, where he was first a protégé and then a race driver, and also at Renault, before a move to calmer waters at Haas.

But he’s knocked some noses out of joint this season, notably Nico Hulkenberg in Hungary – where he forced him off the track at Turn 2 – Charles Leclerc in Japan, defending hard into Turn 1. And Fernando Alonso, on numerous occasions. Magnussen, though, remains unfazed… 

He’s since been retained for 2019, alongside Grosjean, for an excellent chance for him to again prove he deserves to stay long term as one of the sport’s most pugnacious point scorers.