Nancy Knapp Schilke, F1 correspondent
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes hands young Kevin Magnussen a happy new year as they increased his duties in the Young Driver Programme for the 2012 season. At the age of 19, Magnussen appears to be following in the steps of his father, Jan Magnussen, but his own talent is what allowed him to take the next step on the ladder to reach the pinnacle of open-wheel racing.
“I’m really pleased by this new agreement with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. The team has shown great faith in me so far and I feel that this is an important step in my career,” said Magnussen.
The sub-champion in the 2011 British Formula 3 series last year for the Carlin Motorsport team was very impressive as he landed seven victories, eight poles and nine podiums. It was his first season in the tightly-contested British-based series and yet the Dane put on quite a performance and ended up second in the title fight to his own teammate, Felipe Nasr.
The time was right for him to take the next step...
Magnussen, now at the age of 19, became a member of the Young Driver Programme in 2010. This year, he will compete in the World Series by Renault while at the same time, he will take on the challenge of his new role with the McLaren Formula One team.
McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh said: “Racing is the core business of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. By enabling talented drivers to fulfill their potential, our Driver Development Programme is a strategic investment in the future of that business and the sport as a whole. We’ve been delighted by Kevin’s progress, aptitude and work ethic thus far. The time was right for him to take the next step and we look forward to helping him gain the experience he requires.”
Magnussen includes the opportunity to drive the MP4-27 in the Young Driver Formula One test, which usually takes place near the end of the year. During the season, Magnussen’s new role with the McLaren team consists of preparatory work, including engineering support. No doubt the dream of any potential FIA Formula One racer is being able to take part in the simulations. This year, he will be working under the tutelage of Gary Paffett and Oliver Turvey in the F1 simulator. Once he accomplishes the task or the simulator program, Magnussen will move up to the development program of the car itself.
The young racer who won the 2008 Denmark Formula Ford championship, will be able to help evaluate the technical progress of the MP4-27 and verify the simulations’ accuracy. Magnussen commented, “F1 is a highly pressured, data-driven environment, and anyone who wants to get there and succeed within it has to master all the technical aspects of the discipline. This is a great opportunity and I look forward to working with the team and playing a part in Vodafone McLaren Mercedes’ future.”
Kevin Magnussen’s father, Jan Magnussen, made his Formula One debut with the McLaren team in 1995 for one race toward the end of the season. In 1997 he returned to the series with the Stewart Ford team. Jan is one of the top racers in sports cars, and he has four 24 Hours of Le Mans class wins. He also is a two-time Danish Touring Car champion.
The 1994 British Formula 3 champion commented on his Facebook page as he broke the news about his son: “I cannot describe how proud I am. Kevin may have had a slight advantage of his surname, but what he has gotten out of it, he has fought for himself. That he has come so far in such a short time is fantastic and this is only the beginning. We all have high hopes for Kevin, but it is now that the really hard work starts. To get a chance in Formula 1 also requires timing and you must get it right, but now that he already has a contract with McLaren, the possibilities are far greater. I am so proud”.