Kevin Magnussen not seeing Abu Dhabi as battle for survival at McLaren

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Kevin Magnussen’s rookie Formula One campaign is coming to a close this weekend in Abu Dhabi. Whether there will be a second Formula One campaign for him remains to be seen.

The future of the Dane, who was third-quickest today in FP2 at the Yas Marina Circuit, remains undecided as he and fellow McLaren man Jenson Button will have to wait until at least December to know if either of them – or neither of them – will be back in Woking.

With Fernando Alonso continuing to be linked to joining McLaren next year (and adding recently that his next move would surprise no one), it’s murky times for both the young Magnussen and former World Champion Button – who himself may be facing his final Grand Prix ever.

But in an Q&A for Formula1.com, Magnussen isn’t seeing this weekend’s season finale as a fight between himself and the Brit for survival. He also said he wasn’t sure if a good result in Abu Dhabi would swing things in his favor.

“It is difficult to say if it would make a difference in this matter,” he said. “I honestly assume that no decision has been made on the management level so far, but I would deny that this race is something of a shoot-out.

“But then, of course, a good result always helps… For you, personally – that you know that you can do it.”

When asked about the possibility of staying on and pairing up with Alonso, Magnussen was similarly cagey.

“I think for every team in the paddock, Fernando would be a good choice,” he said. “But as Jenson is a fantastic team mate, I have to say that I would have no preference.”

He also insisted that despite his current situation, he was approaching the weekend as he would any other and was focusing on McLaren’s upgrades that they’ve brought to the desert – including a new front wing.

“It is a normal race – just like the rest of the season,” he said. “We have some exciting new things [on the car] for this race and as normal, I will do my best and not let myself getting distracted by thinking about what the future brings.”

Abu Dhabi Grand Prix coverage continues tomorrow with FP3 on NBC Sports Live Extra at 5 a.m. ET, followed by qualifying on NBCSN and Live Extra at 8 a.m. ET.

Alex Palou fastest as several go off course during IndyCar practice at IMS

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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Alex Palou paced the opening practice Thursday for the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Dale Coyne Racing rookie turned a 1-minute, 10.177-second lap around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in his No. 55 Dallara-Honda.

Jack Harvey was second, followed by Colton Herta, points leader Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.

PRACTICE CHART: Click here to see the speed rundown from Thursday’s session

FRIDAY AT IMS: Details for watching Race 1 of the Harvest GP

Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC Sports Gold.

Will Power, who won the pole position for the July 4 race at the track, spun off course with just more than a minute left in the session after the left rear of his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet made slight contact with the right front of Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda.

Power was among several drivers who went off track, but there were no damaged cars during the session. Marcus Ericsson missed the final 5 minutes of the practice after being penalized for causing a red flag with a Turn 8 spin.

Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves, who is driving for Oliver Askew (who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms), also veered off course as did rookie Rinus VeeKay and Santino Ferrucci.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was in attendance at the session before racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Johnson will be driving a partial schedule of road and street courses in IndyCar next season for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Literally, the smallest of details, I can pick up on,” Johnson told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “It’s been really nice today just to see how a session starts and obviously to jump on the radio and listen to how the systems work and then obviously you get into the car and the setup and such. I’m at ground zero right now, a 45-year-old rookie trying to learn my way into a new sport essentially.”

Johnson told Lee his sponsorship hunt to run a Ganassi car “has gone really well. The fact that I’m here today and ingrained so deeply in the team is a great sign of where things are going. Looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a car soon and hopefully having some announcements for the world to see soon, too.”

Fans were in attendance Thursday for the first time this season at IMS, which is allowed a limited crowd of 10,000 for its races this weekend.