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Kevin Magnussen Q&A: Upgrades haven't boosted McLaren

20 Sep 2014

McLaren headed into Singapore hoping new upgrades would move them closer to the sharp end of the grid, only to struggle on the fringes of the top ten in qualifying.

Kevin Magnussen admits such a return is short of pre-weekend expectations, but says the team will now put all their energy into limiting the damage - and seizing on any opportunities that may come their way on the Marina Bay streets...

Q: Kevin, you have had two penalties in the last two Grands Prix, and you surely don't want to add a third - so what have you learned?

Kevin Magnussen: The prime task was to look at [the situation], analyse it - and avoid it. I hope I have learned that lesson now!

Q: Have you been discussing the situation with [McLaren racing director] Eric Boullier and the engineers?

KM: Yes, and they told me that I should go on racing because what I do is good. It is nice to know that I have support, because that is how I always raced - I've always been a hard racer, always keen not to let people pass me. That style got me here. Of course there is a period of time that you need to find your way around in Formula One and get comfortable. But this is still racing and I hope now that I have found my style - still racing hard, and avoiding penalties. It's a question of finding the right balance I guess.

Q: It didn't go unnoticed that the McLaren car has steadily improved in the last couple of races. Is more possible over the rest of the season?

KM: Of course! We are not winning yet so we have to keep on pushing. This team is here to win and we want to get back there as soon as we can.

Q: It is your first Grand Prix on this track: how did you prepare?

KM: What I have heard from the other drivers is that it is a very long - almost two hours - and very demanding race, but boy, this is also a very cool event! It looks so cool with this artificial light. Yes, I also have discovered that it is demanding - the bumpy track, so many corners, the humidity, the car gets very hot - but it is worth every effort!

Q: Qualifying is crucial here because the track offers very limited options for overtaking. Are you satisfied with where you ended up (in ninth)?

KM: It's okay - I think we've got the best out of it. I am not so strong here, so to make it into Q3 is pretty decent. Of course I am eyeing some points.

Q: This is a race where anything can happen - in the past we've seen at least one safety car in every race held here. Is that what you are banking on to move a bit further up?

KM: We do need a lot of luck. A safety car at the right time, some of the other guys retiring - that is always possible yes, but you should not depend on that. We are not fast enough this weekend and the best we can do is to limit the damage. But it will be tough.

Q: How are you going to start the race? Pushing aggressively, or taking a low key approach for the first couple of laps until the dust has settled and then seizing your chances?

KM: I will do what I can, nothing more nothing less. I am not frustrated about my performance or the team's performance - as I just said, sadly we are not fast enough. Of course we had hoped for more with the new parts that we've brought here but unfortunately it didn't work out as expected, so we got back to what we knew. We have to see what opportunities arise - in fact we don't have too much to lose. But of course we also want to bag some points to secure our position in the championship.

Q: So the clear target is to bring home some points, given that McLaren are in the midst of a battle for fifth in the constructors' championship with Force India?

KM: To be honest we are not really focusing on anybody, just on ourselves. Sure we want to finish ahead of Force India in the championship, but the most important thing is that we push the car forward - then the rest will come.

Q: How was qualifying with the radio restrictions? Was it any different to past races?

KM: No, because it is mostly the [car] systems we need information on as we can't feel that as a driver. It's good to still have that information and it's fair enough that we don't get told on how to drive the car, because that is our job. So no issues!