Ron Dennis believes McLaren's partnership with Honda will allow the team to promote its young drivers in to F1 race seats in coming seasons.
With Jenson Button retained alongside Fernando Alonso, Kevin Magnussen has had to drop back
to the role of test and reserve driver alongside Stoffel Vandoorne. With Nyck de Vries and Ben Barnicoat on the young driver programme, Dennis said Magnussen can benefit from a year's testing and believes the Honda approach will allow McLaren to promote the other three in to race seats at other teams.
“As I had the very painful challenge of trying to explain why the decision was taken in favour of Jenson, I pointed out to [Magnussen] that I truly believe that he is going to have something in common both with Fernando and also with Mika Hakkinen,” Dennis said.
“The two things that he's going to have in common I think are that one year's testing does not take away the opportunity of being in Formula One. Of course, Fernando spent one year testing between two years at Minardi, then one year's testing and then subsequently raced for Renault. Mika did two years at Lotus, came here, did one year's testing and then raced for us and both of course then subsequently went on to win world championships.
“He's so young. I don't want to be derogatory to my own son who is 23 but when I look at Kevin's achievements and his maturity and the way he handles himself is just awesome. You have to be balanced in your judgement. As youngsters we all wanted to grow up and be mature … Talking about these young drivers, you've sort of got your feeder line and these are tremendously talented individuals.
“Kevin's been with us for four years, Nyck for even more and Stoffel and Ben are all coming and you're thinking 'Where are they going to go?' And the answer is to my left [race drivers], because the one thing that I believe is not cast in stone but which is going to be very different from Honda's position and other engine manufacturer's positions is that Honda does not believe in recouping R&D costs from the process of engine supply. Of course there needs to be margins.
“We have to get stability and we have to have performance and everything before we can consider engines moving but we believe that is the core ingredient for helping these young drivers. We will jointly, in different ways, support our drivers to give them somewhere to mature. Of course, looking at a very, very unhappy Kevin here if we had the ability to do that we would have done that.”