Boullier: Magnussen dealing with “rookie syndrome”

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Eric Boullier has hit back at comments suggesting that McLaren’s progress is 2014 is being hindered by rookie driver Kevin Magnussen, claiming that the Dane’s recent struggles are very normal for a young driver.

Magnussen’s debut race in F1 was one to remember, as he finished the Australian Grand Prix in second place behind Nico Rosberg. However, since then, both the driver and the team has failed to live up to the lofty expectations, with Magnussen scoring just three points in the last five races.

“I don’t think it is more challenging to have a rookie driver rather than two experienced drivers, let’s say,” Boullier explained during a phone-in. “When you have somebody more experienced like Jenson you get more details, and you get to dig through more problems to find solutions.

“Kevin is facing the rookie syndrome: they are all coming from single-make series. Where they struggle most is to understand that the cars they have [must be] developed to give you certain results.

“If you don’t have the best car you can’t fight for the win.”

Magnussen won the Formula Renault 3.5 championship last season with relative ease, but, as Boullier explained, he might now be struggling to get to grips with a car that isn’t good enough to beat the rest of the field.

However, McLaren’s racing director said that he was very pleased with Magnussen’s work and progress so far this season.

“He is settling in well, he is very consistent, and his feedback is good enough to drive the engineering team around him to make the car faster, so he is doing very well for a rookie,” he said.

Magnussen will be hoping to improve upon his 10th place finish in Monaco at the next weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix.

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”