Kevin Magnussen's F1 career could hardly have got off to a better start, but finishing second in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix would prove to be a frustrating millstone for the young Dane in the weeks to come.
With his McLaren squad unable to replicate the form that saw both Magnussen and, belatedly, team-mate Jenson Button collect silverware in Melbourne, the reigning Renault World Series champion could have been forgiven for thinking that F1 was easy, but subsequent outings have shown just how fickle life in the top flight can be, particularly for those in teams not at the front of the field.
Since opening his account with 18 points behind current championship leader Nico Rosberg on the streets of Albert Park, Magnussen found himself having to scrap for a return to the top ten in the following rounds, taking ninth in Malaysia and posting his first DNF, from a less than promising position, in Bahrain. Indeed, it was not until Monaco two weekends ago that he return to the points, claiming a single addition after a problematic race in the Principality.
Despite the setbacks, however, Magnussen's confidence is far from dented. Instead, he claims that the results are all part of a learning curve that he still has far to travel along.
“I think it is important to stay confident,” he explained, “Confidence isn't something you put on; it's inside you and something that you build up over many years, so it's not like it goes away like that. But it's still frustrating and you have to understand what it is that is causing the bad results.
“I believe that I have the ability to be the best, but I also understand that I am not always the best. I need to learn and improve in many areas - I believe in my potential but I don't believe that I am the best already.”
Admitting that he had a lot to learn about tyres in F1, particularly how to make them work and how to get the most out of them, Magnussen says that his experience has already grown massively in just six outings with McLaren.
“Thinking back to Australia, that was a great result, a good weekend and a good memory, but if I compare where I am now to [where I was in] Australia, I know so much more now,” he confirmed, “And what I've learned since Australia is massive - about the tyres, about the car, about F1 in general - so I feel that I, as a driver, have made progress.
“[Moving to F1 was a lot to take in], but I had a long time to prepare before the season. It's just that, with so much changing for this season, with the regulations and the car, you can only prepare so much before the season, before you drive the car, so there was also a lot to learn after driving the car at Jerez for the first time, and even after the first race. But I think the good thing is that it was pretty much the same for everyone because [F1] has changed so much and it is quite different, so that is a positive.”
Asked to respond to McLaren sporting manager Eric Boullier's reference to 'rookie syndrome', Magnussen insists that it was natural to be frustrated by what happened in rounds two and three given the success he achieved first time out.
“[Australia] was a great result and it's something that I'm really proud of,” he explained, “It's nice that it's something I'll always have, my first race in F1 and being on the podium, but the few races after that were more frustrating because I was coming off a podium and into races where I was struggling even to get points.
“But I'm over that. Now I don't think about Australia. Now I understand where we are, now I understand why we are here and I understand what it will take to get back to where we need to be. It is more clear now whereas, after Australia, it was just frustration and confusion as to why we weren't quick enough.
“I don't think it's [harder] because I won things and was always at the top in my junior career. I didn't expect to jump into F1 and nail it as I had always done in everything else. I knew it would be a challenge - and a much bigger challenge.
“It took two races [to realise that it wasn't always going to be like Australia] and those races, in Malaysia and Bahrain, were very frustrating, but everyone in the team is pretty clear on what we have to do and everyone is pushing very hard to get there again.”
The Dane is particularly happy with the part he is playing in McLaren's fightback, claiming that his views are valued just as much as those of veteran team-mate Button.
“It's maybe not the same feedback because we are different, we feel different things and we require different things from the car,” he reasoned, “Our feed back is never the same, which is good, because you get different inputs, different ideas, but I don't feel like I am holding the team back in the development of the car. I feel I am contributing with good feedback and saying what i feel.
“As a young kid coming into F1, you have to be brave enough to open your mouth and I'm doing that. Whether it's right or wrong, I'll let [the team pick it out]. [The engineers] understand that I have very limited experience and they tell me what they think is right and wrong, but they listen as well and that is what I am really proud of.”