McLaren reserve driver Kevin Magnussen has lauded praise upon his former teammate Jenson Button, describing the Briton as “world class” and “underrated”.
Magnussen was demoted from a race seat to an official third driver role within the Woking-based squad at the end of last season, losing out to Button in the race to join Fernando Alonso in McLaren’s 2015 race line-up.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, the Dane paid tribute to the 2009 world champion, labelling him as a “good guy” as well as praising his driving ability.
“Jenson is a world class driver, a world champion,” said Magnussen. “He’s underrated by a lot of people, maybe because of his time with Lewis [Hamilton at McLaren].
“He’s also a very nice person – he isn’t nasty or unfair in any way, he’s just a good guy. I was competing against him, but it was a fair competition and we had the same possibilities.
“I’ve learned so much from him because he was so open and fair.”
Less pressure on Button
Magnussen explained that he felt part of the reason he was outperformed by his teammate in the run-up to McLaren’s decision to drop him was because there was less pressure on Button.
“Jenson will never struggle again in his life; if he left Formula 1 now he could race anywhere with any team in motorsport,” he said.
“He had no pressure. Maybe he thought he was going to go and that I was going to stay, and so he relaxed.
“I was the opposite; I had everything to lose – if I quit F1 now, I haven’t secured anything else anywhere. So my struggle was bigger.”
“I need to be ready”
Magnussen also emphasised the need to give his all in his third driver role, in case the opportunity to return to a race drive for 2016 should arise.
“I need to show I deserve to get back and to show everyone in the team that I’m committed and I still want this,” said the 22-year-old.
“If I come out of this and I get a race drive, I’ll look back and think this was good for me. I just need to say strong and fit, and be ready – like an arrow in a bow.”
Magnussen was talking to Motorsport.com Russia’s Oleg Karpov