Magnussen fully preparing for McLaren debut

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As a rookie stepping into one of the top seats in Formula One, Kevin Magnussen is under no illusions about the challenge he’ll face at McLaren in 2014.

The Dane seems to have the right attitude, though, as he has basically been preparing for this role for nearly 20 years.

“McLaren has been part of my life since I was a small kid,” he said in a feature posted to the team’s official website. “My dad, Jan, was a test driver here and did one grand prix with the team back in 1995, but I’ve always dreamt about driving for McLaren. It’ll be incredibly special to be in the car as a racing driver – with the Magnussen name on the side.”

Magnussen is spending the entirety of the winter working with engineers, mechanics and trainers at McLaren’s Technology Center. It’s already been a long process, but Magnussen has sunk his teeth into it.

“Now that I’ve got the race seat, I’m fully focused on the work ahead of me. This winter will be all about preparing myself for the first test in January, and the first race in March. It’s about spending time with the engineers, driving the sim, and getting used to everything. It’s a lot of hard work – but I’m really enjoying it.”

Team members are optimistic that throwing a rookie into a situation with such new rules might actually play to Magnussen’s advantage.

“But this is a brand new formula, so a rookie isn’t as disadvantaged,” said McLaren sporting director Sam Michael. “Even if it doesn’t necessarily give Kevin an advantage, the advantage of all the other drivers is diminished because everyone’s starting from the same benchmark.”

Lewis Hamilton set the bar dramatically high for McLaren rookies, coming just one point shy of the 2007 World Championship. Although McLaren endured a challenging 2013 season, the uncertainty of how teams will master the new regulations may change the playing field.

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Carpenter

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

  • 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish

Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.

While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.

Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.

Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.

In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.