Badger took a stroll down the paddock to the Renault motorhome this evening to hear what a smiling K-Mag had to say about his 119 lap day at the Circuit de Catalunya.
His one race entry in 2015 ended before the formation lap even began, so after so long away from racing, does he feel adjusted to the car again?
“After being out for so long and not driving last year, it’s been really important to get so many laps. Being able to just get back in and pound round and do laps is really good, and I feel really comfortable in the car now. I feel the work we do is really just back to normal. We are doing well – we’re learning, and that’s what you need to be doing in testing.”
On how he feels physically after doing long runs in the car;
“I think it was good to be behind Max (Verstappen) for a few laps today, as it’s not often you get to be in traffic in testing, so it’s good to get a little idea of how the car feels in dirty air.
Physically, I feel fine, there’s a little bit of rubbing on the shoulders and after the two days (last test) I was tired – I did 4 race distances in two days, which is obviously quite tough, but I feel fine again, and hopefully we can do as many laps tomorrow.”
On his programme on Wednesday, his last day of running;
“It will be a little more work on set-up, I hope, and an early look at qualifying set-up, so I’m looking forward to that, and then we’ll do some more race running. Quite a normal test day, hopefully – fingers crossed!”
On what he misses in the car;
“It’s the same as any Formula 1 car – downforce and power. If you get more of that, then you go faster, so that’s always what you are looking for.
We can fine tune what we have, and there’s room for improvement, but we are doing well, I think, and we’ve come a long way in the three days that I have been in the car.
I’m very happy with the stuff that we have done and I feel ready for Melbourne. You never feel 100 percent ready but I would feel comfortable going into the race now.”
On Melbourne 2015 vs. Melbourne 2016;
“Last year was difficult because I did something like 25 or 30 laps in testing and then the car broke. Then I went to Melbourne, and unluckily the car broke after no laps, so it was tough.
But this is a completely different situation. I’ve had a month or two to prepare with the team, and prepare for this season, which I didn’t have last year, so I feel ready now to go into a race.
There’s always more you can do in testing, and you always want to learn more, but I’d feel comfortable going to race now.”
More on comparing the Renault to Max Verstappen’s Toro Rosso on track;
“It’s difficult really to know what sort of engine setting he’s in. You don’t really know if he’s pressing the overtake button or if he’s draining his battery or charging up, so it’s not easy like that, but I was pulling on him on the straights.
He didn’t use DRS. Well, he did when I got too close so that I couldn’t overtake, but it’s difficult to really compare unless you’re actually driving the car, so nothing particular wrong. Obviously I hope he was flat out, but let’s see!”
On development of the car this week;
“There will be a couple of things – we have three days of running left to do, and many things to try, but nothing too big. There will be a new front wing coming, which we will be trying out, hopefully at the end of the week with Jolyon. We will see how that works, but nothing too big before the first race.”
On targets for Melbourne;
“I kind of think we are just around the points, maybe just outside, on a good day, so if we can take points away from Melbourne, I think that’s a good weekend.”
On the midfield battle;
“We are running different tyres. If you look at the field today many people are running mediums, some running softs, so it’s difficult really to say where we are yet, but it does look like it’s quite close around the midfield. Hopefully we will close up to make a difference.”
Magnussen notched the tenth-fastest time of the day, a 1.25:760 on Soft compound tyres. He’ll have a chance to better his lap count of 119 on Wednesday when he jumps back in the RS16, before handing over to Jolyon Palmer for Thursday and Friday.