Magnussen pushing for swift return to a full-time F1 seat

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Despite being demoted to a reserve role at McLaren for the 2015 Formula 1 season, Kevin Magnussen is hoping to make the most of his position and push for a swift return to a full-time race seat in the near future.

The Danish driver made his F1 debut for McLaren at the beginning of last season, finishing second in his first race. However, this proved to be the highlight of an otherwise mediocre year that saw him rank 11th in the final standings, and he was eventually dropped to make way for Fernando Alonso at Woking.

Today saw McLaren unveil its 2015 car, the MP4-30, and Magnussen was an integral part of the release, featuring in the official team photos and speaking about his hopes for the coming year.

“Although, naturally, I was disappointed to not be selected for a McLaren-Honda race seat for 2015, I’ve put it behind me and I’m now fully focused on the year ahead,” Magnussen said.

“McLaren-Honda evokes so many great memories in race fans all over the world, and I’m really proud to be a part of this team at the restart of such an important and historic partnership. Our fight back to the front of the grid is our main focus, so it’s going to be down to me to work really hard to develop the MP4-30 and make a real difference to its performance in Fernando’s and Jenson’s hands.”

However, the Dane is aiming to return to a full-time F1 seat in the near future despite not racing this year, hoping that the experience he gains in this reserve role will help his cause.

“My aim is, of course, to return to a Formula 1 race seat as soon as possible,” Magnussen said. “I’ll be giving it 100%, both on track and off it, to build on my last year’s experience, to show what I know I’m capable of, and to reward the McLaren-Honda team’s faith in me by keeping me on board.”

If Magnussen is looking for a return to a full-time seat in 2016, it is unlikely to be with McLaren as both Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button are signed to the team on multi-year deals.

Seats further down the field may be available though, but for the time being, it seems that he will have to make do with becoming the focus of stock TV footage during dull periods of FP1.

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

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
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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.

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 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.