McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh recognizes the uncertainty that comes with his team bringing up newcomer Kevin Magnussen (pictured) to the ranks of Formula One. But he believes that he’s seen enough from the Formula Renault 3.5 champion to know he’ll be able to handle it all.
In an interview with Britain’s The Independent, Whitmarsh details several moments where Magnussen impressed him along his path to F1 from his FR3.5 title to his strong Young Driver’s Test at Silverstone this past July where he led the first day of the session.
“What was impressive was the consistency – there was not a single mistake,” Whitmarsh said of the Silverstone session to Independent writer Ian Parkes. “I also happened to participate in the engineering debrief at the end of the day and he had a number of engineers around him and at least 20 on video conference.
“I sat there listening to his feedback, how clear and precise he was, the confidence, and realizing ‘This guy is special’.”
Magnussen will have to be special in order to have his rookie season stack up admirably against that of the last McLaren rookie in Formula One – Lewis Hamilton, who narrowly lost out on the 2007 World Championship in his first year of F1.
To the young man’s credit, however, he appears to be fully immersing himself in his preparations to team up and face off against former World Champ Jenson Button – who has warned his new teammate about the “big pressure” that comes with entering F1 as part of one of its most important teams.
Considering that McLaren just suffered through its first season without a podium finish in over three decades, there will indeed be high expectations for the son of former F1 and current sports car racer Jan Magnussen to adapt quickly and help get the Woking team back on track.
That said, Whitmarsh has faith.
“…There’s a risk, but we wouldn’t be doing it unless we didn’t think it would work out,” he said.
Status Grand Prix has set its sights on winning the 2016 GP2 Series championship following its decision to close down its GP3 team at the end of the current season.
Earlier this week, GP3 issued a statement confirming its team roster for the next three seasons that featured new entries from DAMS and Virtuosi Racing.
However, both Carlin and Status did not appear on the list, signalling that both had opted to leave GP3 at the end of 2015.
Status first entered GP3 back in 2010, but only set up a GP2 team in 2015 after taking over the old Caterham Racing operation.
This will now become the main focus for the Irish outfit, though, as explained by team boss Teddy Yip Jr. earlier this week.
“Status Grand Prix has not renewed entry into the GP3 Series from 2016 onwards in order to maximize focus on our GP2 campaign,” Yip said.
“Having finished second in the team championship in the inaugural GP3 Series, we have enjoyed six successful years in the category collecting nine race wins, 26 podium finishes and vying for numerous team and driver titles.
“We are very proud to have given opportunities and achieved success with drivers such as Robert Wickens, Antonio Felix da Costa, Alexander Sims and our current GP2 race winner, Richie Stanaway.
“We now look forward to finishing the 2015 GP2 and GP3 seasons on a high before mounting a robust GP2 title campaign in 2016.”
Both GP2 and GP3 return from a one-month break next weekend in support of the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix.
Two-time Formula 1 world champion Mika Hakkinen has heaped praise upon Toro Rosso rookie Max Verstappen, supporting his decision to ignore team orders during last month’s Singapore Grand Prix.
Verstappen only turned 18 on Wednesday, but has already made a big impression on the F1 world during his first 14 races with his aggressive driving style and mature approach to racing.
In Singapore, Verstappen was told by Toro Rosso to let faster teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. go past, but refused to give up his position and eventually beat the Spaniard to finish eighth.
Writing in his Hermes blog, Hakkinen backed Verstappen’s decision to stay ahead and praised the Dutchman for his performances so far this season.
“A driver must be alert and keep track of what is happening around him at all times,” Hakkinen wrote. “That’s what Verstappen is. He does not simply let anyone pass if it’s not for the world championship, but only a few championship points.
“Verstappen is 18 years old, but the guy’s already a real pro. Young people are developing incredibly fast nowadays, and by that I don’t mean just drivers.”
Despite having more than half a season of F1 racing under his belt, Verstappen only gained his road driver’s license on his 18th birthday, having previously been under the age limit to drive a regular car in public.