'I would love to know where we are' admits Magnussen after topping Day Two
Youngster says he already feels ready to race in Formula 1
By James Galloway at Bahrain and Pete Gill
Last Updated: 21/02/14 7:37am
For the second time in four appearances since his appointment as Jenson Button's 2014 team-mate, Magnussen topped the timesheets on Thursday in Bahrain as driver and team maintained their encouraging form since testing commenced in Jerez three weeks ago.
Yes, Magnussen's fastest lap - a 1:34.910 - was set on the softest compound available, and, yes, he only completed 45 days on his final day at this test before handing over the MP4-29 to Button, but the youngster's pace has been abundantly clear since he first climbed into the car on Day Three at Jerez and immediately set about climbing up the timesheets without so much as a single installation lap.
A new star really may be dawning in F1 - although the youngster himself is determined to keep his feet firmly on the ground until the pecking order is definitively revealed in Melbourne for the season-opening Australian GP on March 16.
"I'm not getting carried away at all. I didn't have any expectations about lap times. I would love to know where we are - I'm very curious to know!" the 21-year-old told reporters. "It's so difficult to tell. But I don't know and I don't think anyone knows, we will only see when we get to Australia.
"From now to Australia we will hopefully improve the car but I think we are in a good place."
As a graduate of McLaren's Young Driver Programme, Magnussen has only driven a F1 car on a handful of occasions but already feels ready to race even if he is in the dark about McLaren's relative competitiveness against the rest of the field.
"I feel pretty good with the team and very good with the car, although you always want more time in the car," he said.
"The simulator is a good tool, especially for a young driver like me to learn the tracks, the steering wheel and all the controls. We don't know where we are but I'd be confident going into a race that I would know what to do but from a performance point of view I don't know if it would be better for us to race tomorrow or in two months.
"I feel like I've had enough running to feel at one with the car. I'm just enjoying this, it's amazing, it feels like I'm dreaming. I need to get used to that and get fully focused on the job!"
The Dane also acknowledged that that the still had aspects of his on-track performance to improve too.
"I need to understand how to manage the tyres in a race, that's a very important area," Magnussen admitted. "But I need to improve in all areas."
The only other blot on Magnussen's Thursday landscape was a frustrating morning as McLaren strived to fix a fault on their eye-catching new charger.
"Testing is about trying to get through a big programme and today, unfortunately, we had a small issue with the telemetry in the morning before we managed to get some good laps done in the afternoon. I think the time did a good job in getting through a good part of the programme in a short period of time," he added.
Bahrain Test, Day Two timesheet:
1. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren, 1:34.910, 46 laps
2. Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, 1:36.445, 59 laps
3. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:36.516, 97 laps
4. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:36.965, 85 laps
5. Valtteri Bottas, Williams, 1:37.328, 116 laps
6. Kamui Kobayashi, Caterham, 1:39.855, 66 laps
7. Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, 1:40.340, 59 laps
8. Jean-Eric Vergne, Toro Rosso, 1:40.609, 58 laps
9. Esteban Gutierrez, Sauber, 1:40.717, 55 laps
10. Romain Grosjean, Lotus, 1:41.670, 18 laps
11. Max Chilton, Marussia, 1:42.511, 17 laps.
Overall lap totals by each engine manufacturer during pre-season:
Mercedes - 1419
Ferrari - 762
Renault - 447.
Overall lap totals by each team during pre-season:
Mercedes - 468.
Ferrari - 412.
McLaren - 372.
Sauber - 300.
Williams - 296.
Force India - 283.
Caterham - 210
Toro Rosso - 117
Red Bull - 94.
Marussia - 50.
Lotus - 26.
The Sky Sports F1 Online team will be providing live commentary of all three winter tests, with live updates from trackside also on Sky Sports News.