Kevin Magnussen was quick to take the blame for his crash during practice for the Australian Grand Prix on Friday, admitting that it was a result of driver error.
Magnussen races in this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix in place of the rested Fernando Alonso, who continues to recover from an accident in pre-season testing last month.
The Dane had hoped to make a good start to McLaren’s new era with Honda in 2015, but his Friday finished in the wall at turn six after losing the rear end of his car.
“We didn’t get too many laps in FP1,” Magnussen said. “Then I went off and damaged the car in the afternoon, so I didn’t get much running under my belt in FP2 either.
“I tried to push my braking point into turn six, then lost the rear on entry. The car still made the apex, but then it snapped at a difficult time. I couldn’t avoid hitting the wall. It was a driver mistake. It’s a shame, but these things happen – my bad – and life goes on.”
In spite of the accident, Magnussen remained upbeat about the new MP4-30 car, which is the first McLaren to be powered by a Honda engine since 1992.
“The positive is that the balance and feeling of the car feels good,” Magnussen said. “We’re not as fast as we’d like, but we’re not too far off the optimum balance in the car. Clearly, there’s a lot more to come, but it’s definitely a good baseline.
“Hopefully we’ll get a better idea of where we are in FP3 tomorrow. Hopefully we can go into qualifying feeling a bit more confident.”
SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.
The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.
Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.
Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.
But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.
It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.
Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.