Kevin Magnussen Q&A: Saudi Arabian Grand PrixMarch 14, 2023
Kevin looks ahead to this weekend's Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in Jeddah, a place where he scored two points last year, on his first visit to the circuit.
You achieved ninth place in Saudi Arabia last year. Did that validate that the VF-22 could achieve good results last season and it wasn’t a lucky one-off at the season opener?
“Last year, Saudi Arabia was a strong weekend. Coming away from Bahrain with a fifth place and coming to Jeddah, expectations were high and the pace was good in the car. We got a bit unlucky with strategy – the safety car came out at a vulnerable time for us – but we still managed to score a few points and I hope we can be strong here again this year.”
There are multiple track changes this season, including special ‘rumble lines’ being added at Turns 3, 14, 19, 20 and 21, while beveled kerbs have been added at Turns 4, 8, 10, 11, 17 and 23. What do you make of the circuit?
“I think it’s a great circuit. Last year was my first time there and it’s a really fun and exciting track to drive, so I hope it hasn’t changed too much or at least not changed for the worse. I hope it’s still going to be a thrilling place to drive. It’s a circuit where confidence with the car counts for a lot – you need to be confident and happy with the car and happy to push because it’s a pretty flat-out track.”
After only two races the Jeddah Corniche Circuit has become known for how tough it is on drivers, with any small error costing greatly. Do you approach races like this differently or does a driver only have one approach coming into the weekend – finding the limit.
“Some places you go to you find the groove very quickly and I felt that was the case in Jeddah last year. It’s one of those tracks that I really like and where there are a lot of consequences for going over the limit, and getting close to the limit is harder than going to other tracks with run-off.”
After Bahrain and then Jeddah, which is higher downforce, do you think the team will have a full picture of how this car handles?
“I think it will take a few races, it’s not like if we have two good races or two bad races that we can conclude much. We’ll get a rough idea of where we stack-up but I expect the midfield to be that close that it could easily change on other tracks later on in the year. There’s also a lot of development going on in all teams and good or bad, we just need to stay focused.”