McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has revealed that the deal to sign Kevin Magnussen for 2014 came about after a rival outfit back-tracked on a deal to run the Dane next season.
McLaren had been keen to get the Formula Renault
3.5 title winner into F1 next season, with Marussia amongst those to have been linked with the 21-year-old.
Despite the speculation, Magnussen was instead confirmed as team-mate to Jenson Button
next season in place of Sergio Perez, with Whitmarsh now revealing that another team – who he refused to name – had backed out of a deal.
“Kevin is an extraordinary young man who deserves to be in F1,” he told the official F1 website. “I hoped and tried to find him a cockpit - I even did a deal and shook hands with a team principal up and down this paddock - an absolute deal - but he stepped back…
“Even after 25 years I find that difficult to deal with - I know I shouldn't, but I am still hopelessly naive. I still think that if you look somebody in the eye and shake hands then that's a done deal. When it turns out like in the Magnussen case, then I am shocked - and I tell myself 'learn, don't be naive'.
“So having to face this situation, I decided let's go for it with Kevin ourselves. I think F1 needs these young super talents to come in, but the problem with the sport at the moment is that money is doing most of the talking with most of the teams and there is a danger that we create a vacuum of young talents.”
Whitmarsh also confirmed that McLaren
was still working on trying to find a deal for its other development driver Stoffel Vandoorne, who could instead find himself being placed in GP2 for 2014 if no F1 role is available.
“If we don't find an F1 cockpit at another team for Stoffel we probably will put him in GP2,” he said. “The danger with G2 is that you have a lot of drivers there with financial backing who stay for four or five years - and that is the wrong signal. After two years kick them out. Talents fear it and avoid it, so we have to change that. The last time a rookie won the series was Lewis, so I hope it will pull that off again with Stoffel.”