The 21-year-old Dane, son of former Formula one racer Jan,
qualified fourth at Albert Park on Saturday, outshining former world
champion team mate Jenson Button, who will line up 10th on the grid
after a rain-hit session.
Racing director Eric Boullier, who joined McLaren in the off-season
after being team principal at last year's Australian race winners
Lotus, was delighted with the highly fancied debutant's effort.
"A rookie's first ever qualifying session is always a daunting
occasion for him, all the more so when rain has made the track
surface both tricky and treacherous," Boullier said.
"Nonetheless, Kevin coped brilliantly with exactly those
Magnussen will line up alongside Nico Rosberg, with the German's
Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton on pole.
The Dane said negotiating Albert Park's bumpy street circuit in rain
squalls, gusty winds and in a new car that still has plenty of
development ahead, was "much trickier" than anything he had
"But I don't think I could have asked for any more today," he said.
"I made a mistake and went off on my last lap, so I might have been
able to go quicker, but I'm still happy.
"The car was really good, and the team did a fantastic job of
preparing me for this. I'm proud of myself, but also proud of the
whole team for doing such a massively good job of preparing me over
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"I'll try to enjoy tomorrow and do the best I can — getting onto the
podium won't be easy, especially if it's dry. But if it's wet,
anything could happen — so I guess a wet grand prix is what I'll be
Button will be hoping for the same, after his qualifying was marred
by an untimely crash by Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen in the second
session which brought out the yellow flags.
"I think we had a very good chance of qualifying closer to the
front, because our car isn't quite so quick in the dry," Button
said. "Not getting into the top 10 was sheer bad luck — but,
hopefully, I won't be so unlucky tomorrow."
Magnussen replaced Mexican Sergio Perez at McLaren, who failed to
win a podium spot last year in their worst season in decades.
The Dane is the first rookie since Hamilton in 2007 to make his F1
debut with McLaren. The Briton finished third in Melbourne in his
opening race after also qualifying fourth.
(Editing by Sudipto Ganguly and Alan Baldwin)
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