Young guns test day 1: Magnussen follows in father’s footsteps
Posted By: James Allen  |  06 Nov 2012   |  4:30 pm GMT  |  32 comments

The third and final leg of the fractured 2012 young guns test got underway for six teams in more traditional surroundings in Abu Dhabi today and it was a driver with a familiar surname to Formula 1 who set the opening day’s pace.

Dane Kevin Magnussen followed in his father Jan’s footsteps by making his F1 test bow for McLaren and the 20-year-old Formula Renault 3.5 driver marked his debut by setting the pace around Yas Marina.

His best time, set during the morning before he handed the car over to veteran McLaren tester Gary Paffett, of 1m42.651s was enough to outpace fellow FR3.5 driver Antonio Felix da Costa in the Red Bull RB8 by 0.066s. For the record, the fastest time was two seconds down on Lewis Hamilton’s pole time from Saturday set in the same car.

With Paffett putting himself in third place during his 44 laps in the afternoon, the rest of the field were over a second back with the FR3.5 series champion Robin Frijns fourth at the end of his own full F1 test debut for Sauber. The Dutchman has been linked alongside Esteban Gutiérrez to the second race seat at the Swiss team for 2013 and although the three-day test could effectively be described as a ‘shootout’ between the two to partner the incoming Nico Hulkenberg, it is the team’s young drivers’ test regular Guitererrez who completes the final two days.

Frijns completed 78 laps in the C31 and admitted afterwards that he immediately found the F1 going physically tougher than the junior single-seaters he’s been used to up until now during what appeared an eye-opening day.

“Gosh this was hard work! Not in the beginning but then suddenly I felt it, especially from the brakes,” he said. “I am really tired now and know I have to go and exercise more. In the morning we started with installation laps so that I could get used to the car and the steering wheel, which isn’t that easy. In the afternoon I found it hard to understand the tyre compounds. I had only driven on Michelin tyres before, and with the Pirelli medium and soft compounds it was difficult for me after only one lap. I had the feeling the more careful I handled them the worse it became. There is obviously a lot to learn.”

In another piece of nostalgia, Nicolas Prost, four-time champion Alain’s son, was behind the wheel of Lotus’s Abu Dhabi race-winning E20 and took fifth place on the times. Toro Rosso, meanwhile, ran Luiz Razia and Caterham its Friday and test drier Giedo van der Garde, who will continue in the CT01 on Wednesday.

With the test running until Thursday, McLaren will split the remainder of the test between today’s two drivers and Oliver Turvey, while Frijns will switch over to Red Bull for the final day. Swiss-born DTM driver Edoardo Mortara and new GP2 champion Davide Valsecchi will run in the Lotus on Wednesday and Thursday respectively, with Venezuelan Johnny Cecotto in for Toro Rosso tomorrow. American Alexander Rossi wraps up the test for Caterham in two days’ time.

YOUNG GUNS TEST, Abu Dhabi – Day one

1. Kevin Magnussen, McLaren, 1m42.651s, 40 laps
2. Antonio Felix da Costa, Red Bull, 1m42.717s, 79 laps
3. Gary Paffett, McLaren, 1m43.407s, 44 laps
4. Robin Frijns, Sauber, 1m43.775s, 78 laps
5. Nicolas Prost, Lotus, 1m44.194s, 55 laps
6. Luiz Razia, Toro Rosso, 1m44.691s, 67 laps
7. Giedo van der Garde, Caterham, 1m45.936s, 57 laps

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1.42.651 that’s an impressive time from young Magnussen. One second off the pace Im sure he would not have full power available and who knows what fuel he had. The following day they were all doing 1.43s even the Bulls


Jan looks about 30 in that picture. He looks in better shape now than when he was in F1.


I think Felix da Costa had a KERS issue when he put the soft tyres, so his fastest time was set on the hard tyres. He could have been the fastest


Jan had buckets of raw talent but it seemed his commitment let him down in F1 as he wasn’t fit enough and wouldn’t give up smoking etc.

Lets hope his son doesn’t go the same way.


Jan never did much in F1, hopefully this young kid can get some success, I wonder out of all these drivers who is the next vettel

Adrian Newey Jnr

Ah “Kevin” – that great Danish name!

James – why do McLaren continue to use Gary when they have no intention of giving him a seat. This year could have been the perfect opportunity.


To use it as a test session, clearly!


I can understand Prost, but why was Paffett allowed to run today?


Good luck to him. Hope he fulfills his father’s promising but ill-fated career.



I’m sorry I know this is off topic I have just watched the senna movie what an emotional heartrending epic film and yes I did shed a tear if you haven’t seen it watch it apologies had to share my thoughts 🙂


I hope Kevin is more lucky than his dad when it will be F1 time. Though Jan destroyed every category he did prior to F1, I hope his experience helps Kevin to be more successful in F1!


Better context would be to say he was only 0.3 seconds down on Jenson’s Quali lap, pretty good pace for a newbie if you ask me!

Ps James, I’m currently reading your book about MSC The edge of greatness(I know its been out for a while but I’m a bit slow on the uptake)it’s a brilliant read. I know it is cliche but I’m really finding it hard to put down!


You might want to recheck your sums, it’s 1.3 seconds 😉

We don’t know how much fuel they were carrying or if they were using full power engine modes though.


Numbers have never been my strong point 🙂 …..still an impressive effort nonetheless!


Young Gary Paffett still doing the young guns test, eh?


I loved the comment re the physical difficulty in driving the car – we have all heard this before – but it is interesting that somebody so close to the sport is still surprised

It just shows how hard a job new drivers have starting in the sport with no practice


Great to see these young drivers given a try out. Tinged with regret thinking what could have been for Jan.


Does anyone know why Lotus tested Nicolas Prost? Surely there is no intention to hire him for next season or any other as a regular driver? Is that part of some deal or just to build up buzz?


I think he’s actually one of their test drivers. He also drives for Lotus in another series, so maybe it’s a deal like you’ve suggested?


Wow, Jan Magnussen, there’s a name from the past. Very surprised and disappointed he didn’t manage to have a decent run in Formula 1 given his pedigree in the lower formulae.


I remember him as a driver who didn’t smile much… actually I don’t think I remember him smiling as broadly as in this picture..!


Gary Paffet & Nicholas Prost, “young guns”…


Hi James, please can you do a piece on the technical gadgets being used, in particular this thing and answer one question:

What the hell is it?


Looks like an grid for measuring apparent air velocity around that area of the car.

Google “Pitot tube” for info on how this works.


If you mean the grid thing, that’s a fairly standard (although odd positioned) device for measuring the air flow.

The bit that’s odd to me is the black tubing that appears to be taking some kind of outlet up to beside the fin at the top of the car.

As they are only doing it one side of the car, I’m guessing they are redirecting exhaust gasses with the black tube, and comparing air flow against the normal position of the exhaust.


I believe (could be wrong) its a device that measures the direction (and possibly speed) of air flow. I assume they use this data as a kind of real world verification for wind tunnel and simulations to correlate them.

I have never seen one as big as that. I have seen a few pics of them around the diffuser and rear wing, especially over the last few years with all the diffuser nonsense.


James, are the teams allowing these young drivers to go flat out or they are testing different parts.

Are the teams evaluating these young drivers or they evaluate car parts using these young drivers?


Da Costa is the next big thing in my opinion. Very impressed with his end to gp3 and also in fr 3.5. I reckon he will be in a toro rosso very shortly. Daniel and jev have pressure on next year from him I think.



Any positive feedback on the paddock regarding Antonio Felix da Costa? I’ve been following his career for the last year and looks like he is fast…but with F1 being so different from the other formulas I dont know how good he really is.



God I’m getting old. He looks SO young haha. Good luck to them all, I love these young guns tests. The question about testing experience/testing bans will always come up though….


If Jr. would shave his head, they may as well be twins!

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