McLaren group CEO Ron Dennis says rookie driver Kevin Magnussen is “something special”.
Magnussen was promoted to a race seat for 2014 in place of Sergio Perez; the first time McLaren has opted to run a rookie driver since Lewis Hamilton in 2007. Dennis was team principal at the time of Hamilton's debut, and he said he also took the decision to give Magnussen the drive due to the excitement over his potential.
“This was a decision I took and I think he's succeeded everybody's expectations,” Dennis said. “Why did I take it? I took it because there was an overwhelming belief amongst our engineers that he was an exceptional talent and I listened to how they talked about Kevin.
“I spoke to him – not extensively – I had reservations. I'm not a great believer in sons of drivers and Jan was a little bit untidy, let's put it that way! He quite did my head in sometimes when we gave him the opportunity to drive. But nevertheless, there is something special about him.”
And Dennis highlighted the first time Magnussen had driven for McLaren as the moment he marked himself out as a future star.
“I think what got everybody's attention was when we gave him an opportunity to drive the car in Abu Dhabi after the race. I think his third timed lap would have put him sixth on the grid. If you think about that you think 'hold on a second, the circuit's grippy, it held a race the day before' but equally circuits get dirty too; there are marbles which don't get cleaned up that quickly. So the balance between how much was true pace, but then you contrast it with the other people running, that was impressive.
”He impressed from the first test and he will have an exceptional career, I'm quite sure about that. He has got a steely determination; I don't think he's going to whinge when he gets a few knocks and he's certainly going to keep Jenson [Button] honest, that's for sure.”