Magnussen back in championship lead after Red Bull Ring
Spielberg, AUSTRIA: Danish Formula Renault 3.5 star Kevin Magnussen is back in the championship lead after a strong weekend at the Red Bull Ring in Austria last weekend.
Magnussen scored a pair of podium finishes in the first visit to the former home of the Austrian Formula 1 Grand Prix by the World Series by Renault championship.
He finished third on Saturday and actually crossed the line second in Sunday’s race. However, a post race penalty pushed the McLaren Young Driver Development Program member back to third spot in the second race.
Magnussen was penalized two seconds post-race for passing Nigel Melker outside of the track limits on the opening lap.
The Dane ran wide at the first corner but rejoined ahead of front row starter Melker who had been tapped by Stoffel Vandoorne. Race stewards took no action during the race but a post race protest pushed them into action.
Despite the penalty, Magnussen still grabbed back the championship lead and finished the weekend with a handy 27 point gap.
Magnussen scored his eighth podium from 11 race starts this year. He has only failed to finish in the points on one occasion in 2013.
The result in Austria brought to an end an amazing week for Magnussen who also was fastest for McLaren at Silverstone the previous Wednesday in the Young Driver Test.
The World Series by Renault championship now takes a summer break with the next round scheduled for the Hungaroring on September 14-15. Magnussen was unlucky not to win in Hungary last year - suffering a gearbox failure while leading on the final lap.
Q: How pleased are you with the weekend in Austria?
A: “It was a very good result. I didn’t go into the weekend hoping to finish third, but I think I can be pretty happy with how it went. We scored some good points and made some ground over everyone else in the championship. That’s positive.
“In Saturday’s race I got a bit of a bad start. I started P2 but had a bit of a slow getaway. Then I kept it home in P3. The penalty in the second race was frustrating because I did gain a position in the first corner by going off the track. But the reason I gained a position was because there was contact between Vandoorne and Melker.
“When I came back, I was surprised to have gained a position. I thought about giving the place back but I wanted to wait until being told to do so. I never heard anything on the radio, so I kept going and finished second. Then after the race, Tech 1 protested the move. It ended up that I had a 2-second penalty, which put me back to P3.”
Q: As the championship leader, do you have a bit of a target on your back now?
A: “I think it’s unfair because if I would have been told to give the position back, then I would have had a chance to get Melker back, which would have been very possible considering I was quicker than him and had a better pit stop.
“I was very frustrated with that and I think it was a little unfair. But when you’re the leader of the championship, it seems like you can sometimes have a target on your back.
Q: How important has being consistent played a role in your year?
A: “It’s helped a lot that I’ve been so consistent this year. I have a reason to focus on improving the weak points. If we can improve our race pace compared to qualifying, we’d be pretty good. We also need to improve the race starts.
“We have to keep pushing. It’s very important to be consistent but I’m also a racer and I want to win races. We only won two races this year and I would like to make that number bigger.
“I probably could have gone for the win a bit harder on Sunday. But considering the championship position I’m in, you have to be a bit more conservative. I hope to get more race wins but we’re concentrating on improving every point.”