Instead of being able to celebrate the step forward provided by Renault's latest V6, Kevin Magnussen insisted that the French manufacturer had masked its own gains by actually making its F1 car worse.
While he lauded the advances made by the engine team at Viry-Chatillon, Magnussen claimed that any progress seen during the recent Barcelona test had disappeared the moment the RS16 had hit the track in Monaco, with 'snappy' handling leading to a tough opening day in which both the Dane and team-mate Jolyon Palmer hit the wall.
“Not the best day really,” Magnussen lamented, “We thought we'd made a step forward in the Barcelona test but we came here and we didn't have the car we expected.
“It's the chassis. The engine delivered and it's a good step but, for us, we could have the best engine on the grid and we'd still be close to where were are [on the timesheets], so the engine is not our main concern at the moment. I'm very happy to say that Renault has done a great job and delivered what they promised. They have achieved the numbers and lap-time goals they set, so that's a good job by them, but we just have to improve our car.
“I think we have made the car worse and that's a mistake for us because we thought we had made the car better. I'm sure some of the things we tried [at the test] were improvements but, balance-wise and set-up-wise, it's not made the car better, for this track at least. I think we will revisit it at another race but, here, we'll go back to what we know and see where we are.”
While Palmer lost much of FP2 while his crew completed the rebuild of a car badly damage by contact with the barriers at Tabac, Magnussen soldiered on until his own brush with the Armco at Antony Noghes during the afternoon session
“I just understeered into the wall,” he reported, “I turned in and just had no grip. Looking through the data, I didn't go any faster than the lap before but, when I turned in, I had no grip and hit the wall slightly.”
Revealing that the contact 'only damaged the front wing, the suspension is okay', the Dane said that he hoped to have a more predictable car for Saturday morning's third practice session, and was still targeting a spot in Q2 after qualifying.
“We'll go back to a set-up we know and have run many times and that should suit this track better,” he confirmed, “I still have laps, so I'm not too nervous about that. It's only going to get better, so confidence should be better – at the moment we have a car that is very, very snappy on turn-in and having a snappy car on turn-in at Monaco is not the best!”