Kevin Magnussen has no doubts about his aggressive driving style in 2017 – and says as long as the FIA stewards are happy, he won’t change his approach.
Magnussen has been involved in several incidents with other drivers this year, most recently in Malaysia, where Fernando Alonso complained about him on team radio.
However, the Dane insists that he’s just racing, and that he doesn’t care for anybody’s opinion except that of the stewards.
“I expect anyone to make it as hard as possible, I don’t expect anyone not to make it hard,” said Magnussen. “I think everyone is maxed out on trying to make it as hard as possible for each other. What matters to me is what the stewards think.
“I know that I am pushing hard, and that’s my intention. If it’s fine for the stewards, it’s fine.”
Magnussen added that his team is fully supportive of his approach, and he doesn’t feel under pressure to avoid mistakes – and that in turn makes him less likely to make them.
“I have backing from the team, and that makes you feel good and free to race,” I feel like it’s easier. Obviously you get more experience as well.
“I think it’s easier to give everything you have if you know you have the support from the team, and when you don’t feel like you can’t make a mistake it’s easier not to make a mistake, and perform well.”
Magnussen says that he often has to defend forcefully because he passes faster drivers at the start, who then have to try and find a way back past.
“I think it’s pretty simple, we’re not in a position to just drive into the points,” he explained. “We need to fight, and we need to fight hard to stay in the points if we find ourselves there.
“I often find myself further up in the beginning of the race, because whenever everyone is together it’s easier to make positions and fight your way up.
“Once everything settles your race pace is more important. Sometimes when you’re in eighth position or whatever, and you’re not fast enough, then you have to fight.
“There is a difference in the way you have to drive, if you’re fast or you’re not fast. If you’re trying to get points and you’re not really fast enough to be in the top 10, then you really have to fight hard.”
Magnussen says he has to battle harder than the guys at the front of the field, who potentially have more to lose.
“If you’re fighting for the World Championship, then perhaps you don’t want to fight as hard, you want to be a bit more safe, and play the championship,“ he said.
“In terms of our position in the championship, we need to go in every race to the maximum and try and get a point or two or six. You might get anything and you just need to go for it. It’s very low chance that there’s going to be consistent points scoring throughout the year.”
He’s not worried about complaints from other drivers: “We all get a bit hot-headed in the car in that situation.
“Whenever something happens, I guess you guys know it as well what happens in traffic, whenever someone cuts in front of you or whatever, you swear, and you think after maybe it was OK, or whatever.
“It doesn’t mean so much when it’s in that moment in the car. After the race to say things, get further into it, I wouldn’t do that.”