Kevin Magnussen said an aggressive opening lap of the Russian Grand Prix hampered his race pace despite finishing fifth.

Having started from 11th place due to a gearbox penalty, Magnussen made a strong start and climbed up six places to run behind Fernando Alonso and team-mate Jenson Button on the road. With Alonso having a poor pit stop, Magnussen finished directly behind Button but said pushing at the start of the race caused him to have to dramatically save fuel for the rest of the grand prix.

"I decided to go flat-out from the start, in an effort to make up as many positions as possible from my P11 grid slot, and it worked," Magnussen said. "I had a great lap one, and then moved up to P5 very quickly. After that, though, it cost me dear because I had to do a lot of fuel-saving, especially in the second half of the race.

"Even so, it was a pretty uneventful afternoon for me. It was almost like a chilled-out Sunday drive, in fact, because I was easing off the power 200 metres before the corners in an effort to save fuel. I was really surprised that no-one was able to catch me, in fact; I guess the guys behind me must have been experiencing the same problem.

"Overall, therefore, I was pleased to finish fifth - and for Jenson to qualify and finish fourth was a great result in two ways: it meant that together we scored a lot of very valuable Constructors' World Championship points and it also showed that our car is steadily improving."

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And Magnussen conceded McLaren's pace had been better than the team had predicted heading in to the race.

"So it's been a good weekend. We've been a bit quicker than we'd expected to be, which was great. Now we need to push really hard so as to carry that improved form forward for the rest of the season."