Magnussen: Low expectations for one-off McLaren drive

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McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen is heading into this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix with low expectations following a difficult winter testing period for the British team.

For 2015, McLaren has reunited with engine supplier Honda, with whom it dominated Formula 1 back in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

However, the new partnership has not started entirely as planned, with the team encountering a number of problems with the power unit throughout pre-season.

Magnussen will race in Australia this weekend as a planned one-off for McLaren, deputizing for Fernando Alonso who is still being rested following a testing accident in Barcelona last month.

Despite finishing second in the race last year, the Dane is not expecting a similar result this time around due to the reliability problems that the team has faced.

“I would say quite low,” Magnussen said when asked what his expectations were. “We’re struggling obviously with reliability, making the car run for a long time, but this is a new start for McLaren, a new start in many ways and I think it’s going to take time.

“I think it’s the right direction that the team has chosen to go and I think it has a bright future ahead, but I think it’s going to take time but I’m sure they’ll get there.”

McLaren is yet to confirm whether or not Alonso will be fit to race in the Malaysian Grand Prix at the end of the month. Magnussen confirmed that the Spaniard had wished him the best of luck for this weekend’s race, but is otherwise unaware of his recovery programme.

“I haven’t been in contact with him, only on Twitter he wished me good luck and I said thank you and that’s it,” Magnussen said. “I haven’t asked him how he’s feeling but I hear he’s doing well so yeah, obviously at this race I wish him all the best.

“Can’t really say much more because I don’t know much more. What about Malaysia? You’ll have to wait, I don’t know. I’m not the right person to ask.”

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.