It was at the end of just his third ever day of Formula 1 testing during last July's Silverstone Young Driver Test that Kevin Magnussen, without hesitation, declared: "I feel ready for Formula 1". But one year later, it's hard to imagine that many people, perhaps even quietly self-assured young Dane himself, thought that a McLaren seat would be his for 2014.
That his swift promotion to one of the most coveted drives in F1 at the expense of Sergio Perez, Lewis Hamilton's replacement the previous winter, has come his way tells you everything you need to know about the immense faith McLaren have in the 21-year-old's abilities.
That belief was crystalised by Magnussen's 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 campaign when he beat the Woking team's fellow protégé Stoffel Vandoorne to the title. When he lines up on the F1 grid for the first time in Melbourne, Magnussen will become McLaren's first rookie since Hamilton in 2007 - and just the fourth in the last 30 years - and while expectations surrounding the Dane are not as high as that, Sporting Director Sam Michael has made it clear that the team "believe that Kevin can be a World Champion".
Born on 5th October 1992 in Roskilde in Denmark, Magnussen is the son of former McLaren and Stewart driver and four-time GT winner at Le Mans, Jan. Like most race drivers, Magnussen began his career in karting, graduating to single-seaters in 2008 where he dominated Danish Formula Ford with 11 victories in 15 races on his way to the title.
The Dane moved to Formula Renault 2.0 the following season and contested a dual campaign of the Eurocup and North European Cup. He finished as runner-up to Antonio Felix da Costa in the NEC after 12 podium finishes from his 14 races and seventh overall in the Eurocup.
His performances that season attracted the attention of McLaren, who signed him to their Young Driver Programme. 2010 saw another step-up for Magnussen as he moved to the German F3 Cup in which he finished third in the overall standings and as top rookie. Kevin also drove in the Valencia round of the F3 Euroseries, winning only his second race in the Championship.
Magnussen spent another year in F3 in 2011 - this time in the more prestigious British championship with Carlin. He finished as runner-up to team-mate Felipe Nasr, but did finish the year as the driver with the most poles, fastest laps and laps led.
Staying with Carlin, the Dane moved to Formula Renault 3.5 in 2012, taking one win and two further podiums on his way to seventh in the Drivers' Championship.
That season also saw him promoted to the role of Development Driver at McLaren and he topped the Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi on his first outing in the MP4-27. Magnussen stayed in FR3.5 in 2013, but switched to the DAMS team and clinched the title with a race to spare having only finished off the podium three times all season (excluding his disqualification after taking victory at Paul Ricard).
He also drove for McLaren at the Silverstone Young Driver test in July, when his speed was, once again, immediately apparent as he set the pace on Day One. Perhaps just as significantly, Magnussen finished the test as the fastest McLaren driver, and tenth overall in the end-of-test timesheets.
At that time an F1 drive with Marussia, or perhaps even Force India, appeared the Dane's most realistic opportunities but as McLaren continued to be underwhelmed by Perez, Magnussen's candidature grew ever stronger and eventually too exciting to resist.
- McLaren Mercedes
- DOB: 05/10/1992
- Nationality: Denmark
- Debut: 2014 (Australia)
- Races: 19
- Podiums: 1
- Career Points: 55
Pos Driver Nationality Team Pts 1 Hamilton Mercedes 384.0 2 Rosberg Mercedes 317.0 3 Ricciardo Red Bull 238.0 4 Bottas Williams 186.0 5 Vettel Red Bull 167.0 6 Alonso Ferrari 161.0 7 Massa Williams 134.0 8 Button McLaren 126.0 9 Hulkenberg Force India 96.0 10 Perez Force India 59.0 11 Magnussen McLaren 55.0 12 Raikkonen Ferrari 55.0 13 Vergne Toro Rosso 22.0 14 Grosjean Lotus 8.0 15 Kvyat Toro Rosso 8.0 16 Maldonado Lotus 2.0 17 Bianchi Marussia 2.0 18 Sutil Sauber 0.0 19 Ericsson Caterham 0.0 20 Gutierrez Sauber 0.0 21 Chilton Marussia 0.0 22 Kobayashi Caterham 0.0 23 Lotterer Caterham 0.0