Top-5 qualifier Magnussen sees 'tricky' first stint ahead

Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas F1 Team
© XPB 

Kevin Magnussen equaled his best qualifying result with Haas on Saturday, concluding his afternoon session in Sochi with the fifth fastest time.

The Dane's performance was obviously helped by the conspicuous absence in Q3 of Red Bull's Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo who, because of their respective grid demotions, sat out the session beyond their initial run in Q1.

A start from the third row offers Magnussen some good prospects for the race, but the Haas driver nevertheless adopted a cautious stance, knowing his opening run on Pirelli's hypersoft tyre will need to be properly managed.

"I think most people are a little bit nervous about that and hopefully it will be the same for everyone, that everyone is struggling a bit," said Magnussen, basing his opinion on his experience with the compound in free practice.

"We managed to make it last long but it wasn't particularly fast so we need to have a bit better pace tomorrow of we want to be competitive.

"The track is usually a little bit better in the race and that means the tyres are a little bit easier to make last. Hopefully it should be alright.

"But definitely it's going to be a tricky stint, and then we go most likely to the soft after that, and it should be fine."

Magnussen admitted he won't be challenging the front-runners, hoping to enjoy a clean start and a clear track thereafter to manage his efforts and secure a good bag of points to wrestle back fourth place in the Constructors' standings from Renault.

"We're in a strong position," he said. "it's strange being in the 'best of the rest' position because you don't really want to get involved with the guys in front because that's just going to upset your race a little bit.

"Hopefully they'll have good start, much better than mine, and I can kind of have a clear track.

"There won't be many laps and they'll be gone. Hopefully I can stay in my position in the first laps and I'll have a clear track after that.

"Both cars in the top ten should be a good chance of scoring points tomorrow and get back in the fight for fourth."

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