Kevin Magnussen: “We expected it to be hot in Sepang but maybe not as hot as that!”

by Gemma Bray

Kevin Magnussen finished the second session of the opening day of practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix in nineteenth position, but the Renault Sport F1 driver was lucky to escape unscathed after suffering a fire early in first practice.

The Dane was unable to set a time during Free Practice 1 as a fuel breather issue resulted in the ignition of escaped fuel. Luckily enough, Magnussen was coming into the garage after two installation laps when his engineers noticed smoke and flames, with the driver leaping from his Renault with Renault personnel attacking the fire with extinguishers.

When it appeared to have been controlled, it erupted again with flammable liquid seeping from the airbox. This incident forced the FIA to red flag the session with mechanics draining the remaining fuel. Fifteen minutes after the fire had started, mechanics were able to take off the engine cover and cool down the engine, and with the quick thinking of mechanics, no one was injured.

With the fire under control, mechanics were focused on repairing and rebuilding the RS16, ready for Free Practice 2, and Magnussen was able to participate in the second session the rebuild was completed. He was able to complete the session with no problems, finishing the session in nineteenth ahead of the Haas F1 of Romain Grosjean, ending the day with a fastest lap time of 1:37.664.

Even with the problems in the opening session, Magnussen was glad he was able to run in the afternoon so the day wasn’t a complete write-off.

“We expected it to be hot in Sepang but maybe not as hot as that!” said Magnussen. “My crew were great dealing with the fire and getting the car back into action for the afternoon.

“From my perspective, I heard the call on the radio to jump out and I didn’t need to be told twice! In the afternoon we were able to get some laps so the day wasn’t a write-off. There’s a bit too much entry oversteer with the initial set-up but we know where we want to improve.”

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