McLaren’s Boullier holding regular talks with rookie Magnussen

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Back in December, Eric Boullier – then still the team principal at Lotus – appeared keen to help Enstone newcomer Pastor Maldonado evolve into a regular points contender, just as he did with the team’s late bloomer, Romain Grosjean.

Almost two months later, Boullier swapped Lotus black and gold for McLaren silver and became that squad’s new racing director. And now, he’s keeping a close eye on the progress of rookie Kevin Magnussen.

The Danish driver had a spectacular debut in Australia with a third-place finish that was later revised to second after Daniel Ricciardo’s disqualification. But things were tougher for him last weekend in Malaysia after he clipped the back of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen on the opening lap.

That incident earned Magnussen a five-second, stop-and-go penalty and two penalty points on his FIA superlicense. Nonetheless, it wasn’t a total loss as he was able to finish ninth and at least gain a few World Championship points.

Boullier regards the incident as a valuable learning experience, and has revealed that he has been conducting regular pep talks with Magnussen.

“Despite a front-wing change and a five-second penalty, we explained our strategy to him to make sure he finished in the points and he just did it, so it wasn’t bad,” he said according to Britain’s Sky Sports. “But we still need to develop him carefully. Twice a weekend, certainly at least once, we have a long chat.

“I’m monitoring very carefully his state of mind, the way he behaves. I’m watching him a lot, like I did with Romain (Grosjean). I’m trying to lock him in a room at least once a weekend to make sure he is okay.”

In the case of this past weekend, Boullier said he only needed to speak with Magnussen twice “for 10 minutes, which is enough.”

“…He is very open minded, so everything I tell him – like advice, let’s say – he is listening,” the Frenchman added.

Verstappen doesn’t want F1 season to end after recent run of form

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Max Verstappen says he is not ready for the 2017 Formula 1 season to come to an end after enjoying a run of strong form through the closing stages of the campaign.

Verstappen endured a rocky run of form through to the end of the European season that saw him suffer a number of reliability issues and score just a single podium finish, taking third in China back in April.

However, the Dutchman has rallied to score more points than any other driver in the last five races, including victories in Malaysia and Mexico, as well as a podium finish in Japan.

Verstappen heads into next weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix chasing a third win of the year to sign off, but joked he does not want the season to end just as he’s got into a good groove.

“We will, of course, try and end the season with a strong result in Abu Dhabi,” Verstappen said. “Last year was actually quite a good race after skipping a pit stop following a spin at Turn 1, it was hard to manage the tires to the end of the race but we did it and finished fourth.

“I would say that my favorite part of the track is at Turns 2 and 3, the fast left, right. It’s also very cool driving underneath the hotel and racing in the darkness with all the lights.

“The final sector at Yas Marina is actually quite technical so you have to be really precise there, but it should also be our strongest part of the track.

“There are quite a few overtaking opportunities to make the race interesting, before the long straight at the hairpin and then at the end of the straight under braking for the next chicane section.

“Abu Dhabi is the last race on the calendar, but I don’t actually want the season to end. I’m really fired up at the moment and I just want to keep going.

“The nice thing will be to spend some time with friends and family over the winter break and then I will look ahead to January and get back into training before it all starts again.”