Kevin Magnussen admits that he is still having to pinch himself when it comes to believing that he will be making his F1 debut with the McLaren team at this weekend's Australian Grand Prix.

The Dane, whose father briefly drove for the Woking-based team during his short F1 career, graduates to the top flight as reigning World Series by Renault champion, but is having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that, even after a promising pre-season test programme, he will be lining up on the grid in Melbourne.

"It feels strange knowing that, the next time I drive my car out of the garage, it will be for free practice at the Australian Grand Prix," Magnussen confirmed, "It's crazy to even think about racing in Melbourne - I've never been to Australia before, and the grand prix has always been something that I've watched very early in the morning on TV back in Europe. To not only be arriving in a new country, but also taking part in the grand prix is incredibly exciting."

Coming in as team-mate to 2009 world champion Jenson Button could have been a daunting prospect for the newcomer, but Magnussen appears to have taken the task in his stride, matching his team-mate in terms of both times and distance in testing to suggest that he could be a threat for points from the off.

"I think we head down under having had a solid winter - we know we have a lot of work left to do, but we have a good basis from which to go forward," he agreed, "We know where the car is strong, and where there's more work left to do - and we're addressing those areas. But I've said it all along: the car is driveable and predictable; it does what we ask it to do, which is a positive."

With the switch to turbocharged V6 engines and additional changes affecting almost the entire design of this year's F1 cars, teams have had a hard time coaxing reliability from testing, but Magnussen knows that that presents as much of an opportunity as it does a threat.

"Personally, it'll be important for me to finish these early races in order to get some good mileage under my belt," he noted, glossing over the fact that problems elsewhere could open the door to early points, "Even though I've had a good winter, I'm under no illusions that I'm a still a rookie, and that I'm giving something away to the guys with more experience. However, the new regulations have made it more of an even playing field, so a couple of good practice sessions and some race distances will help enormously in getting me fully race-ready.

"There's no substitute for being in the car - and there's so much for me to still learn about driving an F1 as close to the limit as possible while still focusing on tyre management, fuel-saving and the controls and switches we operate from the cockpit. But I'm really looking forward to being in a race - that's why I'm here, and I can't wait to get started!"



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