With a father
who is also a former F1 driver (who even took part in one race for McLaren), Kevin Magnussen comes in to the sport
with a lot of expectation on his shoulders.
graduating from karts, Magnussen’s first year in single seaters was an
impressive one as he won the Danish Formula Ford championship at his first
attempt. His dominance was impressive, as he won 11 of the 15 races that season
and set the fastest lap on ten occasions.
early success, Magnussen’s career really took off in 2009. Stepping up to Formula
Renault 2.0, he finished seventh in the Euroseries and was runner up in the
Northern European Cup behind Antonio Felix da Costa as he only failed to finish
on the podium in two of the 14 races he started. The highlight was a win at the
Nurburgring, which came after five consecutive third-place finishes, and significantly
Magnussen ended the season ahead of fellow Dane Marco Sorensen.
consistency and immediate competitive pace saw Magnussen added to the McLaren Young
Driver Programme in 2009. The next step was a move in to German Formula 3 in
2010, driving for Motopark Academy. The more experienced Tom Dillman took the
title having been racing in Formula 3 since 2007, but Magnussen was again a
race winner – this time on three occasions – as he finished third in the
remained in Formula 3 for 2011 but moved across to the British championship,
driving for the hugely successful Carlin team. Again, it was a strong season.
After a slow start the breakthrough came at Snetterton, where he took two victories
from the three races. He soon followed that up with another impressive win at
the Nurburgring, taking pole position and the fastest lap in the process.
early rounds proved costly as Felipe Nasr had taken two wins and two second
places from the first four races. From that point on it was always going to be
a tall order to close the gap and Nasr went on to take the title in dominant
fashion, but two wins and a second place from the final four races at Donington
and Silverstone helped Magnussen secure second place. The end of season
statistics were impressive too, as he ended the campaign having secured the
most pole positions, joint-most fastest laps and led the most laps across the
With each year
Magnussen was proving himself to be a quick learner and was swiftly rising up
through the categories. He stayed with Carlin in 2012 but progressed to Formula
Renault 3.5, racing in a championship rich with talent thanks to the likes of
Jules Bianchi, Robin Frijns, Sam Bird and Felix da Costa. Despite it being his
first season at that level, after finishing second in the opening race Magnussen
continued his winning habit with a victory at Spa. However, a number of
retirements restricted him to seventh in the standings.
continued to be impressed with Magnussen’s potential and named him one of the
team’s development drivers in 2012. That led to his first experience of F1
machinery when he drove at the Abu Dhabi Young Driver Test, and he didn’t
disappoint as he set the fastest time of the week with a 1:42.651.
performance, Magnussen was named a McLaren reserve driver and confirmed for a
second season in Formula Renault 3.5 for 2013, albeit moving from Carlin to
DAMS. After his race-winning debut year, expectations were high and he delivered
spectacularly, with two second places at Monza being followed by a dominant
pole, win and fastest lap at Aragon.
Felix da Costa struggling for consistency it soon became clear that it was a
two-horse title race with high stakes. Both Magnussen and fellow McLaren young
driver Stoffel Vandoorne were challenging for honours – with the latter in his
rookie season – and after Magnussen won at Spa, Vandoorne went on a run of
three consecutive victories.
response was crucial. At the next round in Austria, a pair of third places
while Vandoorne twice retired gave his title hopes a huge boost, and he followed
that by outscoring his rival again with two second places in Hungary. But there
was controversy at Paul Ricard where he won the first race after taking pole
and setting the fastest lap but was then excluded for an issue with his DRS
flap. Having been on the verge of sealing the title, Magnussen now held just an
18 point lead in the standings.
The second race showed Magnussen’s class as he won comfortably from pole and
saw Vandoorne retire. He duly wrapped up the title with another pair of
victories in Barcelona, ending the season with five consecutive pole positions,
three consecutive wins and a winning margin of 60 points.
It was enough
to convince McLaren of his talents, and when it came to choosing a team-mate
for Jenson Button in 2014, the team opted for the exciting potential of
Magnussen over a second year for Sergio Perez.
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