10 Things You Need to Know About New McLaren Driver Kevin Magnussen
Unless you've been living on Mars, you’ll know by now that young Danish driver Kevin Magnussen will be partnering Jenson Button at the McLaren team for the 2014 season.
But there are some things about the young Dane that you may not be aware of, such as that his nickname is Kev and that his favourite musician is Danish singer Mads Langer.
Here are ten things you should know about the McLaren rookie.
10. He’s No Stranger to McLaren
Magnussen should slip seamlessly into the McLaren set-up as he has been a part of their young driver development programme since 2009.
He gained his first taste of F1 action behind the wheel of the McLaren MP4-27 at the season-ending Abu Dhabi young driver test in 2012 and set the fastest time in the process.
He again impressed for McLaren in the next young driver test at Silverstone in July, once again topping the time sheets on Day 1 ahead of Force India driver Paul di Resta.
9. He’s a Series Winner
Magnussen joins the McLaren team with championship-winning credentials.
In only his second season in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, Magnussen blitzed the competition to take the title by 60 points with five wins and nine other podiums.
8. His Dad Made His F1 Debut for McLaren Too
Kevin’s father, Jan, was touted as an F1 star of the future after dominating the British Formula Three championship whilst driving for Paul Stewart Racing.
As Kevin will do, Jan made his F1 debut for McLaren, filling in for the unwell Mika Hakkinen in the 1995 Pacific Grand Prix before being axed by Stewart Grand Prix after a disappointing season-and-a-half driving with the team.
"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,” Magnussen told BBC Sport. “It'll be incredibly special to be in the car as a racing driver—with the Magnussen name on the side.”
7. He’s Following in Lewis Hamilton’s Footsteps
When Magnussen lines up on the grid for the season’s opening grand prix in Melbourne, he will be only the second rookie driver in McLaren’s history.
The first? Lewis Hamilton in 2007 when he stunned the F1 world by almost taking the title in his debut season.
That’s pressure enough in itself but Magnussen says rather than be daunted by it, he is inspired by Hamilton’s achievement.
"The fact Lewis did what I'm doing now is a positive for me. It shows the team has been there before," he told BBC Sport.
"They have already prepared a rookie for his grand prix debut. The fact that Lewis was so successful doesn't raise the pressure for me, it just shows that it can be done, and that you can be successful as a rookie. That's really encouraging."
6. He Will Push Jenson Button
That is the view of McLaren test driver Gary Paffett, who appeared on stage of the recent Autosport International Show to talk up Magnussen’s chances of springing a surprise.
Jenson needs someone quicker than him to push him harder. That's what we saw with Lewis Hamilton in the team. Lewis is one of the best qualifiers on the grid, and he always pushed Jenson past the limit, so Jenson had to work very hard to keep up. Last year with the drivers quite closely matched there didn't seem to be too much pushing going on in the team and I really think Kevin can bring that. What we've seen of him so far in testing, he is extremely fast.
5. His Racing Number Is 20
For the 2014 season, drivers were asked to submit their preferred numbers to have on their cars and helmets in a push to make each driver more recognisable as well as for merchandising benefits.
Magnussen took to Twitter to reveal his preference: "Here's some news: my driver number will be 20 this year, which I won the Formula Renault 3.5 Series title with last year.”
4. Suzuka Is His Favourite Circuit
Magnussen has already raced around some of the world’s most iconic circuits from his time in Formula Renault including Monaco, Spa-Francorchamps, Silverstone and the Hungaroring.
It may come as something of a surprise, therefore, that his favourite circuit is one that he’s never driven before. But when asked that very question on a McLaren Twitter Q&A, he named Suzuka as his favourite.
“Suzuka—it has a great history, and it looks the best”.
3. Lewis Hamilton Rates Him
It’s highly unlikely that Magnussen will come even close to emulating Lewis Hamilton’s staggering achievements in his rookie season in F1.
But what will give Magnussen a boost is the words of encouragement and advice offered by Hamilton as the Dane approaches his debut season.
“He's not filling Jenson's boots, or mine, so in that sense he has plenty of time to prepare, with plenty of time in the simulator,” Hamilton is quoted in the Daily Mail.
He seems like a very intelligent young lad. He's always pleasant when I see him, and he's obviously very quick. He's done great in other categories. They'll give him the same opportunities to learn about the set up, the car, the simulator. I'm sure he'll be on it every day so he'll hit the ground running.
2. He Loves Indian Food and Watersports
All Formula One drivers have hobbies and Magnussen is no exception. In a recent McLaren Q&A on Twitter, the Dane highlighted jet-skiing and waterskiing as his favourite hobbies.
And the best thing about living in the UK? Indian food, obviously!
1. He’s a Confident Man
What is perhaps most impressive about Magnussen as he prepares for his first season at the pinnacle of motorsport is that he isn’t afraid.
Quite the contrary, Magnussen told Autosport that he thinks it’s possible to do just what Hamilton did in his debut season in the sport.
He [Hamilton] had great success at McLaren arriving there as a rookie and it is definitely possible to do. I know he worked incredibly hard, and the good thing is that I am in the same team as he was. They [McLaren] have had a rookie before; they know how to treat a rookie and how to work with a rookie. That is good, a really good thing.
My generation of drivers have all started very early. The previous generation of drivers started a bit later. So if you take a driver at 19 from my generation, he will be better prepared at 19 than a driver was from the previous generation because we have started earlier.
Jenson Button, watch out!