McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen says the tenth place he scored in the Singapore Grand Prix was potentially the toughest result of his career after suffering more than most in Marina Bay.
The Dane started ninth and finished tenth under the lights, but in between endured a painful couple of hours as the cockpit of his MP4-29 got hotter and hotter. Radio messages between driver and team first reported that Magnussen was being burned by his seat, and later that his drinks bottle had got so hot that it was painful to take on any liquid – a necessity in the already gruelling Singapore humidity.
“It was a very, very tough grand prix,” the rookie admitted afterwards, “During the race, I don't know if there was something wrong with the car, but my seat started getting very hot, which made things extremely uncomfortable for me.
“Without that, I think we could have done better than tenth, but at least we got that one point. It's better than nothing, but it was the hardest point I've ever earned!”
Racing director Eric Boullier praised the youngster's efforts given his discomfort.
“For Kevin, who had driven such an excellent qualifying lap here yesterday, this afternoon was gruelling - there's no other word,” he claimed, “His first stint was satisfactory, but in stint two he began to experience tyre degradation to a greater degree than we'd predicted, forcing us to convert his strategy from a two-stopper to a three-stopper.
“To add injury to insult, he was then subjected to severe bodily discomfort as his car's cockpit began to overheat, necessitating his holding his arms aloft, first one then the other, in an effort to direct cooling air down his sleeves and inside his race-suit, which was an unusually painful complication for him.
“In the end, after an impressively plucky drive in extremely challenging conditions, he was able to score a single point for the team. It was scant consolation, but it's indicative of his tremendous fighting spirit, and I commend him for it.”
Asked for the extent of Magnussen's suffering, Boullier confirmed that the reigning Renault 3.5 champion had been 'burnt - on the back'.
“The problem is the water was boiling so he was also hurting his mouth when he was drinking,” the Frenchman added, “He was okay when he got out of the car, but you could see that he gave his all. It's strange, I don't know why [it happened] so they are investigating what's wrong. Everything with the telemetry back to batteries or anything was normal.”
While Magnussen was heating up, team-mate Jenson Button saw his hopes of at least seventh place go up in metaphorical smoke as his McLaren expired within sight of the flag.
“I was cueing things up for the end of the grand prix,” the Briton reported, “I'd been looking after the tyres for the whole stint, and I knew the last five laps were when things were going to get tricky for Valtteri [Bottas] ahead of me.
“I'd just switched the car into a different mode, and the chase was starting to get quite exciting. Then, a few corners later, the car just died going into the hairpin. Going across the bridge, it just turned off, so I had to stop.”
True to Button's expectation, Bottas' tyres went off dramatically in the final two laps, and the Finn dropped right out of the points positions, likely promoting the McLaren to sixth had he been able to continue.
“I'd been really looking forward to the end of the race, because I definitely think I'd have got past Valtteri,” Button sighed, “It just didn't work out – I was pretty unlucky.”