Q: Kevin, aside from the Russian Grand Prix where you finished in P7 the season so far has probably been a bit disappointing for you. Can you tell us where reality and aspiration do not meet?
Kevin Magnussen: Ha, it’s no secret that we expected this season to be tough – so it would be wrong to say that it’s been disappointing so far. Yes, if you compare to where Lotus were last year it’s been a step backwards – but with what Renault had to deal with over the winter I wouldn’t say that we’ve done a bad job. Actually it is quite impressive where we are already if you take everything into consideration – all the last minute decisions!
Q: After your rather sudden departure from F1 last year you probably wanted to come back as the white knight in his shining armour and make a splash. Were you prepared for a rockier season?
KM: Believe it or not: I was just very happy to be back in Formula One! I truly enjoy being with this team. And I am young – and when you are young you believe in making your own destiny.
Q: Renault became a works team only six months ago and, as you have indicated, it has had to come to terms with a lot of deficits. From the first pre-season test at Barcelona to the Spanish Grand Prix have there been significant steps up?
KM: It is definitely a better car…
Q: …so you can say that there’s been a raise in performance?
KM: …relatively! It is all relative. Yes.
Q: Your team principal, Fred Vasseur, has counted you among five drivers he sees as possible future F1 champions in 2019 and beyond - among those five of course is also Max Verstappen. But while Max is already in a car where he can show his potential you have to live on that advance praise. Is there a bit of envy?
KM: For sure there is envy! I would love to win a Formula One race. I am actually jealous of everyone who has won a race in F1. I want that too! Every time I see someone on the podium I feel envy! (laughs) I will be up there as well one day - if I stay in F1.
Q: Does it give you hope when you see that the Red Bulls are doing so well - with the same engine - and that you and Ricciardo will race an upgrade on the weekend?
KM: I definitely do believe that this is a further step on the engine side, yes. But I also think that we still have some way to go. 2016 is all about catching up - and not losing faith.
Q: Does it help that Monaco is not such an engine driven track - that you can implement the engine update under a less stressful situation? That Monaco is more about the smartness of the driver and the right strategy than pure horsepower?
KM: Well, yes we will only know at the next race how strong the engine upgrade is - but it helps mentally to know that you can bank on more horsepower! (laughs) This is a drivers track - always has been - so let’s see where it takes me!
Q: You’ve only raced in Monaco once in an F1 car - for McLaren in 2014 - but two times in the 3.5 World Series. From your overall three starts you’ve finished twice in the points - so positives prevail…
KM: … and I want to add a third positive experience. I want to be in the points again though I am aware that the other 22 guys say the same! (laughs) It is a race where there is a 99 per cent chance of a safety car, which means that there must have been a crash. So looking at Saturday I think we could be around 13th in qualifying - and then if people crash out we could benefit. I believe that - as long as I am not the one crashing out!
Q: McLaren will celebrate its 50th anniversary this weekend. What are the biggest differences between Woking and Enstone?
KM: How down to earth Enstone is! Not so much showing off! It fits my personality much better!
Q: We know from Lewis Hamilton that his tattoos hold a message. You are also pretty ‘inked’. What is your message?
KM: Everything together has a meaning: hope, belief and love! For us Danish it is a way to live - probably like Sisu for the Finnish. I changed that a bit to my situation: the dice are hope, the stopwatch of course is time, or belief that I will make it, and the roses symbolise love.
Q: If you had to describe Monaco - how would that read?
KM: Very simple: it’s my favourite track.