One of the worst-kept secrets in Formula One is now out in the open as McLaren has confirmed that Danish driver Kevin Magnussen will be driving for the team next season, replacing Sergio Perez.
Magnussen, 21, is a member of McLaren’s junior driver programme, and won this year’s Formula Renault 3.5 championship that is widely considered to be a support series to Formula One. The team had been trying to find him a seat, but has instead opted to promote him to a full-time drive at Woking after a disappointing year from Sergio Perez, who last night confirmed that he would not be racing for McLaren next season.
“McLaren is pleased to announce that Kevin Magnussen will join Jenson Button as a McLaren Formula One race driver for 2014 – Jenson’s fifth year and Kevin’s first year as McLaren Formula One race drivers,” a statement from the team read.
“I’m absolutely overjoyed to be making my Formula One debut with McLaren,” Magnussen explained. “I’ll put it simply: this team is the best. It’s been my dream to drive for McLaren ever since I was a small kid, and it’s no exaggeration to say that I’ve dedicated almost every day of my life to achieving the goal of becoming a McLaren Formula One driver.
“I have an enormous amount of respect for everyone at McLaren, and I want to say a massive ‘thank you’ to everyone, but most of all to Martin and his senior colleagues, for giving me this chance. I won’t let you down, guys!”
Magnussen becomes just the third ‘rookie’ driver in the history of McLaren, following in the footsteps of Alain Prost and Lewis Hamilton. After a disappointing season for the British team, all eyes will be on the young Dane to see if he can remedy some of the problems and pose a stiffer challenge to Jenson Button than Perez was able to. However, with a raft of new regulations set to shake up the sport next year, it appears to be a risky move bringing in such a young driver.
Nevertheless, promoting a young driver was something that team principal Martin Whitmarsh first hinted at in Singapore.
“To be frank, bringing a youngster in and turning him into a champion is pretty nice as well, so that’s the great thing about hiring drivers it goes well,” Whitmarsh said when asked about McLaren’s future driver line-up.
McLaren is now looking to finish the season in fifth place in the constructors’ championship before focusing on the first race with the new turbocharged V6 engines next March in what will be Magnussen’s debut.