McLaren hails 'incredible' Magnussen after podium on F1 debut
|By Ben Anderson||Monday, March 17th 2014, 15:25 GMT|
New McLaren racing director Eric Boullier hailed an "incredible weekend" from "brilliant" rookie Kevin Magnussen, who scored a podium finish on his Formula 1 debut in the Australian Grand Prix.
The reigning Formula Renault 3.5 champion outqualified his experienced team-mate Jenson Button in challenging wet conditions, before racing to third on the road behind race winner Nico Rosberg's Mercedes and Daniel Ricciardo's Red Bull.
The Dane was later promoted to second after Ricciardo was excluded for his RB10 consistently exceeding the maximum 100kg/h fuel flow rate mandated by the new 2014 regulations, thus allowing Magnussen to match 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve's feat of finishing second on his F1 debut in Melbourne.
"He did an incredible weekend," said Boullier, who joined McLaren from Lotus over the winter.
"He never put a foot wrong, he drove like a mature driver, an experienced driver, and I have to say I'm amazed because he is only 21 and he handled the pressure very nicely.
"It was not an easy weekend with a lot of challenging conditions, but I'm delighted and very impressed. [He was] brilliant."
McLaren leads the constructors' championship thanks to Button's third place in Australia, but Boullier accepted the team needs to improve its MP4-29 dramatically if it is to retain that position and take the fight to the pacesetting Mercedes team.
"They [Mercedes] are very fast, so clearly they are one big step ahead of everybody," Boullier added.
"We'll do our best. We are putting things in place and working and making sure we can recover on the development and also work on next year's car so we can keep up.
"The guys did a brilliant job, because both cars are in the points, they are big points and they finished the race.
"[But] the target is also to lead the championship after the last race."