Kevin Magnussen

Kevin Magnussen


Kevin Magnussen is the latest golden-boy to emerge through McLaren’s young driver scheme and is so highly-rated within the team that he will step straight into one of its race seats in 2015.

The son of ex-F1 driver and four-time Le Mans GT winner Jan, Magnussen started his career in karts before moving up to Formula Ford in his native Denmark. At just 15-years-old he was a class above his countrymen, taking 11 victories from 15 races while also taking part in Formula Ford races elsewhere in Europe.

The next step was Formula Renault 2.0 and he embarked on a two pronged attack in both the European Series and the North European Cup. He finished second in the NEC to Red Bull protégé Antonio Felix da Costa and in the process caught the attention of McLaren, who signed him on to its driver development programme.

Formula 3 came next and he won one of two races he entered in the European Series as well as taking three victories in the German series. The following season he switched to British F3 in which he took seven victories and finished second overall to Brazilian Felipe Nasr.

In 2012 he took part in his first season in Formula Renault 3.5, which proved to be his final stepping stone before F1. He won one race and finished seventh in the championship while also taking part in the F1 Young Driver Test at the end of the year in Abu Dhabi. He completed a total of 505km in the race-winning MP4-27, setting the fastest time of the test in the process.

With a year’s experience in Formula Renault 3.5 behind him, he switched from Carlin to DAMS and waltzed his way to the title with five victories in 2015. Fellow McLaren young driver Stoffel Vandoorne was his nearest competitor but still 60 points adrift by the end of the season.

There was nothing left to prove in the junior formulae so McLaren was desperate to find a place for him in Formula One. Negotiations with Marussia failed to materialise in a race seat, and with the driver market awash with talent and money, the team showed just how much they believed in Magnussen by ditching Sergio Perez after just one year and placing Magnussen in the team as a 21-year-old rookie for 2015.

He is set to be the first rookie to drive for McLaren since Lewis Hamilton, but ahead of the start of pre-season testing has little more than 1,000km of F1 mileage under his belt compared to the 10,000km Hamilton had.

Strengths and Weaknesses
Magnussen has shown maturity beyond his years during his apprenticeship at McLaren and is undoubtedly a quick driver. However, a lack of F1 experience outside of the simulator will present him with a steep learning curve in his rookie year.

Career High
Making his F1 debut with McLaren at the age of just 21.

Career Low
Being stripped of his Formula Renault 3.5 victory at Paul Ricard in 2015 after his car’s DRS flap failed to conform with regulations.

“I feel ready, I’ve won in everything I’ve driven so why would that stop in Formula One?”

McLaren sporting director Sam Michael speaking about Magnussen after his first F1 test: “Given his performance, he certainly didn’t look like a guy who had never turned a wheel in a modern F1 car before the start of this week!”

He is set to become the first driver named Kevin to start a Formula One race. American Kevin Cogan entered two races in 1980 and 1981 but failed to qualify.

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