Kevin Magnussen believes McLaren are not too far away from big guns after a strong qualifying session in Hockenheim.
The Dane will start P4 on the grid at Hockenheim – equalling his best qualifying display to date – after getting the better of both Red Bulls and his team-mate Jenson Button on Saturday.
In front of him he will have the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and the Williams cars of Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, but Magnussen feels McLaren have closed the gap.
“This has been a good day for me,” he said. “I think we got everything out of the car in terms of set-up, and our strategy throughout qualifying was perfect. Thanks to all the guys in the garage – they did a fantastic job. It was a great achievement to be able to hold off the Red Bulls, and I feel that we’re not too far away from some of the really strong guys.
“There’s no secret to our improvement: a lot of hard work has made the difference. We still don’t have the best car, but it’s well-balanced and raceable, and I think we’re able to get the best out of it on a regular basis.”
Conditions were hot and humid on Friday and Saturday, but predictions suggest the temperatures will drop on Sunday.
“Tomorrow could be a different story,” Magnussen said. “The weather forecast says it’ll be cooler, and that there may be rain. We might struggle more in the race than we have today, but fourth place isn’t a bad position from which to start.”
The more experienced Button didn’t have a great Saturday and will start P11 after failing to make it through to Q3.
“This hasn’t been an easy weekend for me, which is a shame because I really like it around here. I’ve been struggling with the car’s balance,” he said.
“In qualifying, I encountered traffic [Romain Grosjean] on my first run in Q2, and that cost me the opportunity to get into Q3 – he wasn’t even on a new tyre when he was on that run, so it wasn’t going to be his quick lap.
“On my final Q2 run, I had a very different balance and a lot of oversteer. I wasn’t quick enough.
“Looking ahead to tomorrow: our long-run pace didn’t look too strong on Friday – we struggled in the hot conditions, but I think we’ll hopefully be better if the predicted cooler conditions roll in for Sunday afternoon.”