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Kevin Magnussen Q&A: Podium is a dream come true

16 Mar 2014

On Sunday in Melbourne, Danish rookie Kevin Magnussen went a long way towards rewarding the faith that McLaren have placed in him by taking a hugely impressive third-place finish. After the race the 21-year-old could understandably barely contain his delight…

Q: Kevin, yesterday after qualifying you didn’t dare to dream about a podium - and here you are! You’ve given McLaren their first podium in a long time…

Kevin Magnussen: Amazing, isn’t it? I almost can’t find words to express how I feel. Somehow it is a bit surreal doing your first Formula One race and ending on the podium. It is pretty crazy. And on top McLaren is leading the constructors’ championship! Congratulations to the team for doing such a good job with me over the winter - and doing a good job with the car. If we keep that level I am sure we are going to go pretty far together.

Q: The start looked a bit scary and didn’t give an indication that there would be such a happy ending…

KM: Yes, indeed it was pretty scary. I had quite a moment and almost lost it. I went too quickly on the power and the car moved to the left - but lucky for me, I managed to survive that situation. From then on the rest was fine.

Q: When looking at the McLaren situation of 2013 - not scoring a single podium all season - and the situation this season when their newly signed rookie goes into his first race and scores a podium straightaway - that almost sounds too good to be true…

KM: Yes, that’s true. You have to see it that way. And where do we go from here? Hopefully proceeding down that path. For me, it’s about trying to learn as much as I can from this race and carrying that experience over to Malaysia which is a completely different circuit. There is no guarantee that we will have that speed again there. So I’ll tell myself: keep your feet on the ground and inhale everything that can bring you forward.

Q: At one point the team told you that team mate Jenson Button was behind you and that there would be a chance that you’d end up battling for position. What did you think at that moment?

KM: I looked into the mirror and didn’t see him. That’s when I thought that I’d rather concentrate on fighting Daniel (Ricciardo). And that’s what I tried. The car was simply fantastic and if I had one wish it’d be: let’s go on like this forever! (laughs)

Q: The signals McLaren sent over the winter test period were quite mixed, so it was hard to judge where you would end up…

KM: …yes we came here not overly happy with the car and ended the weekend with a car that was really, really fantastic. That shows that you can make a change over a race weekend - and that gives much hope for the long season ahead.

Q: You came pretty close to Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull - almost in a position to lay your hands on P2. If it wasn’t for the fuel saving, do you think you would have been able to pass him?

KM: We weren’t really struggling with the fuel saving. It wasn’t as big a problem as we thought it would be, but I didn’t have that last bit to get past Daniel.

Q: The last time McLaren went for a rookie was with Lewis Hamilton in 2007. Now you’ve delivered the same result in your first race as he did back then: P4 in qualifying and P3 in the race! Are you following in his footsteps?

KM: I would be delighted to do that. I am so happy and so proud. It is a dream come true - one that you almost don’t dare to dream. I have to give big thanks to the team: it is quite risky these days for a top team to take on a rookie. But McLaren has believed in me from the first moment. They never doubted anything and gave me all the support that I needed.

Q: Ron Dennis is back - and halfway through the race he made his way to the pit wall - probably checking on you. Did you realize that?

KM: No I didn’t. I was occupied with something else obviously. But it is good that Ron is back - it gives the team a boost. They relate Ron with success. He is the most successful team principal in the paddock - that says a lot.

Q: Next stop will be Malaysia a track that you don’t know…

KM: …ha, I didn’t know the Melbourne track either. From what I know Malaysia should be a bit more straightforward - hopefully. Whether we will have the pace that we had here, who knows? But we will work hard and this race has shown that you can make a change over a weekend.