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Kevin Magnussen Q&A: Third row proves McLaren improvements

21 Jun 2014

McLaren came to Austria hoping a significant upgrade package would yield results – and rookie Kevin Magnussen duly secured a top-six starting berth for the first time since this year's Australian season opener.

The 21-year-old Dane, who scored two podiums in Spielberg last year in Formula Renault 3.5, says his performance proves McLaren are closing the gap to Mercedes and the other frontrunners - and believes Williams' front-row lockout should serve as inspiration that the Silver Arrows can yet be caught...

Q: A very strong performance from you Kevin - what are your expectations for Sunday's race?

Kevin Magnussen: It was very good to see that we have made some progress with the development of the car, and that we would have been able to fight for the top five if everything had gone perfectly. I just made a tiny mistake in the last corner where I missed the apex, but it is always easy to say 'if I had done this or that then things would have been different'.

I have driven this circuit before in another category, so it was not totally new to me. Still, we can be very satisfied. Now we need to keep improving our car further for the upcoming races, making sure that we bring new developments. We are still lacking downforce, so this is something that we need to work hard on. For tomorrow we cannot expect anything more than we have shown today. I am not too sure if our race pace is as strong as our qualifying pace...

Q: We have an unusual grid for the race, what do you make of it?

KM: It is good to see both Williams at the front, and to see that another team has closed the gap to Mercedes - although it is unfortunately not us. This is a circuit where the cars are extremely close in terms of qualifying times, so a small mistake will cost you positions very quickly. Some people went off track, some went too wide and got their qualifying times deleted, so it will be a very interesting race - as it was in qualifying.

Q: How much did your previous experience of the track help in qualifying?

KM: It helped a little bit, as you can start earlier with working on the set-up. It is not too much of an advantage though, as the other drivers are used to learning a track very quickly - and I have also done well on circuits that I did not know from before. I like this track a lot and P6 in qualifying is really good news for us.

Q: Starting from sixth, what can you do in the race? Are McLaren ready to fight at the front for a full race distance?

KM: When I look ahead for tomorrow, I am not sure if our race pace will be as strong as our qualifying pace was today. The positive that we take from today is that we are improving and that the car feels better with every day that we are on the track. Of course we'll do our best to make an impression tomorrow - the bigger the better!

Q: F1 racing's next stop will be Silverstone. Do you have any ideas already about that weekend?

KM: It's our home race so of course we want to do well there - but pardon me if I say that right now my focus is on doing well here. Silverstone will be on my mind tomorrow evening. (laughs)