Despite the circumstances that led to his promotion to a full race seat, McLaren believes that Kevin Magnussen has the weapons in his locker to make ain impact in F1.

There was little doubt that the new World Series by Renault champion deserved a shot in the top flight, but McLaren had, ideally, hoped that he could do his learning elsewhere before returning to Woking in the future. However, when plans to second the Dane to a rival fell apart [ see separate story], McLaren took the radical step of cutting Sergio Perez to pair the rookie with Jenson Button for 2014.

Magnussen is already gearing up for his maiden grand prix season by spending the winter preparing with his engineers, mechanics and trainers at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, aware that the days and hours spent now could dictate form at the start of the season.

"McLaren has been part of my life since I was a small kid," the Dane said, "My dad 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. It'll be incredibly special to be in the car as a racing driver - with the Magnussen name on the side.

"Now that I've got the race seat, I'm fully focused on the work ahead of me. This winter will be all about preparing myself for the first test in January, and the first race in March. It's about spending time with the engineers, driving the simulator and getting used to everything. It's a lot of hard work - but I'm really enjoying it."

Magnussen is no stranger to application as, a year ago, he set himself some steep goals in order to step up a gear in the WSbR. According to McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale, that decision allowed the youngster to benefit remarkably from his most recent single-seater season.

"During 2013, Kevin really knuckled down," Neale explained, "He started to show all the attributes that, in due course, will make him a great driver.

"To win in the World Series, you have to be an all-rounder: you have to be able to work well with your engineers, understand the technology, and also be tenacious; be able to go through the inevitable upsets and come out on top.

"In the last few years, Kevin has shown that he has the raw pace and aggression but, this year, he's taken control of it - he now knows when to really push and when it's better to just bring the car home. That discipline brought him a great championship victory."

The winter will be equally intense for everyone at McLaren, as the far-reaching technical changes that see the sport virtually re-inventing itself for 2014 mean that the search for performance - from both the chassis and the powertrain - is as deep as it is wide, but Neale expects Magnussen's arrival to have a positive effect.

"We're very excited about having Kevin on the team," he insisted, "We want him to come in and work really hard at the basics - he needs to understand that coming into F1 is just the start.

"He's 21 - he's got a lot to learn, we want to shelter him from the inevitable ups and downs of life in motorsport but still unleash the exciting potential that he's got. You can identify that killer instinct in somebody - Kevin's very hungry, but also very controlled."

Despite the 2014 regulations' complexity, Magnussen feels the change ought to give him an easier ride than if he were jumping into F1 during a period of regulation stability.

"It'll be a new challenge for everyone, not just for me," he insisted, "Everyone's going to have to learn about the 2014 cars - not just myself.

"It's a good year to come into F1. The fact that I won't have as much experience as some of the other drivers actually counts a little bit less - of course, it's still going to require a lot of hard work - and I'll have a lot to learn, but so will everyone else, so that's a positive for me.

"I'm sure working with Jenson will be beneficial. He's a world champion, he's the most experienced driver in F1 and I'll be able to learn from him; I'll be sat next to him in debriefs at every race next year, listening to what he says and watching him work with the team. He'll be a great guy from whom to learn."

While the debate between youth and experience is always nuanced, McLaren sporting director Sam Michael argues that Kevin shouldn't be negatively affected by the rule-changes.

"Regarding youth versus experience, you could argue it both ways," the Australian claimed, "In terms of learning how the tyres behave, the powertrain works, and the effect of the new aerodynamic maps, the experienced guy will have a more balanced understanding.

"But this is a brand new formula, so a rookie isn't as disadvantaged. Even if it doesn't necessarily give Kevin an advantage, the advantage of all the other drivers is diminished because everyone's starting from the same benchmark. And it's much better for Kevin to come in now than any other year.

"Kevin's arrival is really exciting for the whole team - he represents the future. When you have a rookie come onboard - somebody who's full of energy, who's just won his lower-category championship, and who is desperate to prove himself - it creates a buzz within the team; people share his hopes and dreams. From a team point of view, it's a fantastic move."



Loading Comments...