McLaren F1 reserve Kevin Magnussen says he's a better driver now

McLaren reserve Kevin Magnussen feels he has become a better driver this year despite spending almost the entire Formula 1 season on the sidelines

McLaren F1 reserve Kevin Magnussen says he's a better driver now

The Dane lost his race seat to Fernando Alonso for 2015 when McLaren preferred to retain Jenson Button.

Since then, he has only been behind the wheel after Alonso sustained concussion in a test crash, getting a day's running at Barcelona and then failing to start the Australian Grand Prix due to an engine failure.

Magnussen maintains he has taken on a wealth of information over the past few months he is convinced will stand him in good stead should he be given a drive either with McLaren or elsewhere next year.

"Although it's massively frustrating not to have been racing this year, I've knuckled down and tried to view it as a learning opportunity," he told AUTOSPORT.

"In fact I've learned a hell of a lot.

"I've been working intensively with the McLaren engineers, in Woking and at the races, and I've been able to immerse myself in that work more thoroughly than a race driver would ever have time to do.

"I've given the engineers an extra driver's-eye opinion on the data from Fernando and Jenson, analysing it against onboard video footage in order to help them get the best out of our car.

"I write detailed reports every race weekend and contribute to nearly all the technical debriefs.

"I'm pleased to say some of McLaren's top race engineers, guys like Andrea [Stella] for example, have said good things about my input. I've really learned a lot.

"So, although I wouldn't have deliberately chosen to have a year not racing, in fact it's made me a better racing driver.

"It's added significantly to my skillset in terms of advancing my knowledge in some really important technical areas, like driving-technique analysis, car development and set-up.

"Those extra skills will always be useful to me, and to any team I drive for, from now on."

Magnussen has confirmed he has an eye on a seat with newcomer Haas should McLaren fail to provide him with the drive he craves in 2016.

Haas is seeking an experienced driver, and although Magnussen has only had one full season in F1, he believes he fits the bill.

"It's become clear to me that most people don't seem to realise how much experience I've got," said Magnussen.

"I've won championships - World Series by Renault 3.5 in 2013 and Formula Ford in 2008 - and I've won lots of races in Formula Renault 2.0 and Formula 3.

"I first tested a McLaren F1 car three years ago, in 2012, and I was McLaren's official test driver in 2013.

"I then raced in 19 grands prix in 2014, and made it through to Q3 16 times, which wasn't too bad for a rookie in a car that wasn't really that competitive.

"And, as I say, this year I've added a tonne of technical knowledge to that racing experience."

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