F1 2014 Driver Review: Kevin Magnussen


Kevin Magnussen

Team: McLaren-Mercedes
Car No.: 20
Races: 19
Wins: 0
Podiums (excluding wins): 1
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 55
Laps Led: 0
Championship Position: 11th

Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1)

Kevin Magnussen was meant to be the next big thing in Formula 1, having warranted the sacking of Sergio Perez after just oen season at McLaren. The Dane lived up to the hype on his debut, finishing second behind Nico Rosberg in Australia, and suggested that experienced teammate Jenson Button may not have it all his own way in 2014.

However, this proved to be the highlight of his season. He did manage to finish in the points on 12 occasions, but Magnussen rarely troubled the front-runners. Sure, the McLaren MP4-29 car gave him little chance of doing so, but the gulf in points to his teammate – 126 to 55 – is cause for concern.

Magnussen was solid if unspectacular this year, and is now waiting on a decision from McLaren to see if he will be retained. If it wants to build for the future with Honda, K-Mag is the man for the job. However, in terms of true ability and experience – and who will score more points in 2015 – Button should get the nod.

That said, it would be a shame for Magnussen to be shelved after just one season. He may not have set the world on fire this year, but he definitely deserves more than just one season to prove his worth.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno)

Jan Magnussen’s son Kevin seemed to meet a lot of well-timed criteria at the start of the year. He’d be making his debut in a Mobil 1-backed McLaren-Mercedes as his father did in 1995, when both those partnerships began. But after an impressive preseason and an absolutely perfect debut Grand Prix in Melbourne, things never were as rosy again for the talented Dane the rest of his rookie year.

Teammate Jenson Button held the edge in race results and points, as could have been expected, but also in qualifying, where Magnussen was probably seeking to gain the upper hand. Consider how his fellow rookie Daniil Kvyat of Toro Rosso got the better of Jean-Eric Vergne on Saturdays more often than not and that seemed to stand out. Magnussen had few true “wow” moments, but he had several decent qualifying efforts.

The one area he must improve on in 2015 if he gets a chance to continue is maintaining his race position on race day. Magnussen ended better than he started in only six of the 18 Grands Prix he finished this season, and his fall from regular points scores brought McLaren down to a battle with Force India for fifth. His first year had its high points, and you could see him grow in the level of a Valtteri Bottas with more seasoning, but his promise wasn’t fully realized on the whole in 2014.

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

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Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.