McLaren confirm Kevin Magnussen will partner Jenson Button for the 2014 season
Youngster appointed replacement for the departing Sergio Perez
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 02/12/13 5:12pm
McLaren have confirmed that Kevin Magnussen will partner Jenson Button in 2014.
The 21-year-old Dane, who is a graduate of McLaren's young driver programme, will replace Sergio Perez, who announced on Wednesday he will leave the team after just a single season with the Woking outfit.
Even after their worst season in recent memory, McLaren clearly haven't lost their nerve. Magnussen will be one of the youngest drivers on the grid next season and has previously enjoyed only a handful of laps in a F1 car.
Yet the team have evidently decided that the Dane, rather than Perez, represents their best hope for the future, with the Mexican struggling alongside Button this term, scoring just 35 points to the Englishman's 60.
Perez future unclear
Magnussen is understood to have impressed the team with his speed in their simulator, whilst also displaying outstanding pace and composure during his outings in the Young Driver Tests held at Abu Dhabi a year ago and in July at Silverstone.
The son of former F1 driver Jan, Magnussen is certainly not short of self-belief, telling reporters last month: "I feel I'm ready. I have won in everything I have driven in so why would that change in Formula 1?"
McLaren's decision may also have been swayed by the success they experienced in 2007 when they threw a young rookie by the name of Lewis Hamilton into the deep end alongside the then-reigning World Champion, Fernando Alonso. Indeed, Magnussen will become just McLaren's fourth rookie driver in the last 30 years - one of whom was his father, for a one-off race in 1995.
"Kevin, too, is clearly very talented and very determined, and we therefore have high hopes for him. Moreover, every time he's tested our Formula 1 car, he's been very quick and very methodical, and his feedback has been first-class," enthused team boss Martin Whitmarsh.
"Their confirmation is an important step for us as we continue to strengthen our organisation ahead of the 2014 season."
Magnussen was crowned Renault 3.5 champion two months ago, a feat which has seemingly persuaded McLaren to overlook the claims of Perez, Nico Hulkenberg and even Paul di Resta as they considered the identity of Button's team-mate in 2014.
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"I'm absolutely overjoyed to be making my Formula 1 debut with McLaren," said Magnussen.
"I'll put it simply: this team is the best. It's been my dream to drive for McLaren ever since I was a small kid, and it's no exaggeration to say that I've dedicated almost every day of my life to achieving the goal of becoming a McLaren Formula 1 driver.
"I have an enormous amount of respect for everyone at McLaren, and I want to say a massive 'thank you' to everyone, but most of all to Martin and his senior colleagues, for giving me this chance. I won't let you down, guys!
"Equally, in Jenson, I have absolutely the ideal team-mate. He's extremely quick, obviously, but he's also very experienced and superbly capable from a technical perspective. He's a Formula 1 world champion, which is what one day I also hope to become, and I'm determined to learn as much as I can from him."
Who's where in 2014?
Red Bull: Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo.
Ferrari: Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen.
Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
Lotus: To be confirmed.
McLaren: Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen.
Sauber: To be confirmed.
Force India: To be confirmed.
Williams: Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas.
Toro Rosso: Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniil Kvyat.
Marussia: Jules Bianchi with second driver not yet confirmed.
Caterham: To be confirmed.