Magnussen & Vandoorne deserve F1 shot – McLaren

2013 F1 season

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McLaren managing director Jonathan Neale says both its junior drivers Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne deserve a chance to race in Formula One.

The pair are leading the Formula Renault 3.5 championship which is part of the World Series by Renault. Sophomore driver Magnussen, son of ex-F1 racer Jan Magnussen, has 199 points to rookie Vandoorne’s 163. Red Bull-backed Antonio Felix da Costa trails the pair of them on 120.

“I can’t be specific, but we’d expect to see them in Formula 1 in the not too distant future,” said Neale during a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in.

Neale said it was important for F1 to ensure talent young drivers get a chance to race in the top flight:

“I think it behoves us as a sport to make sure that both those two fantastic individuals find their way into Formula One. Certainly on current performance you’d expect them both to get there.”

“The step between coming through the junior series and coming into Formula One is pretty challenging and we’re still trying to figure out the best way for them to do that,” he added.

Asked whether McLaren wished to retain both its current drivers for coming seasons in anticipation of new engine regulations next year and the arrival of Honda in 2015, Neale indicated it wasn’t the top priority.

“What you really want is talent and high performance,” he said. “We’ve shown in the past that we weren’t afraid to make the changes that we felt that we needed to in the team, whether it was inside the organisation or in the driver line-up, in order to get the job done.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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39 comments on “Magnussen & Vandoorne deserve F1 shot – McLaren”

  1. Poor Felix Da Costa, seem like lots of people losing faith in him. He has have some bad luck.

    Even so I´m not sure if he deserve the Toro Rosso seat.

    1. Felix Da Costa is a shoe-in at Torro Rosso, no doubt imo.

      I see McLaren stall Magnussen in a lower F1 team and put Vandoorne in GP2.
      Unless Vandoorne takes the championship from Magnussen they might turn this around?

      1. I think McLaren needs a junior outfit. Not as extreme as torro Rosso, but a place where they can put drivers if needed.

    2. That kid Vandoorne is good but I rank Magnussen and Felix da Costa a step higher. IMO Magnussen and Felix da Costa are F1 ready, the latter, despite a not so impressive season is the safest bet for Toro Rosso, because Carlos Sainz Junior is not quite there yet.

      1. The only reason Vandoorne isn’t leading the championship is because he had bad luck with two dnf’s at the Red Bull Ring. As a rookie he has been very impressive! He is as good as the other two, I think even better ;-) (but ofcourse i’m belgian, so a little bit biased!)

  2. There are quite a few testing opportunities next year – so maybe that’s what he means by “in Formula 1″.

    That last paragraph’s intriguing though – a classic silly-season statement. Doesn’t rule anything out, or in.

  3. Really want to see Fabio Leimer on the F1 grid next year

    1. I would prefer Coletti. It would be cool to have a Monagasque driver race in the Monaco GP. And he would be a solid mid-pack driver.

      1. Why not both?
        (I support Leimer so I would rather have him in than Coletti, but the more the merrier)

  4. Exactly what sort of hardball are they playing with Button??
    This follows on from Button confirming today he hasn’t signed yet!!
    I’d be nervous if I were Jenson

    1. Button still hasn’t signed?

      For a team with such a diabolical operational and design record over the past few years, I don’t see where they get the impression playing hardball with drivers is something they’ve got spare capacity for.

      If you couldn’t win with last year’s car and Hamilton, guys, then I don’t think Button’s qualifying/first lap pace is your problem…

      1. But the thing is that Button has nowhere else to go except for really lower end teams . So Mclaren will play dirty till they can to lower his price . It is in the best interests for both parties , that JB remains in Mclaren, though .

  5. I am beginning to sense that, McLaren don’t want JB from 2014 and the sticking point MIGHT be that JB wants a 2 years deal, but Honda don’t want Button. (although I have no idea why although I guess it may be because they want to lose the ‘grey rinse’ tag they have in Europe.


    1. I dont know. Button used to be their driver.

    2. Highly unlikely @baron, because Button was always very much a fan favourite in Japan, I would rather say that it might have been one of the factors that appealed to them when they signed the deal with McLaren.

      1. @bascb I knew Button loved Japan (pretty much everybodya does) but I didn’t know he was a fan favourite, did his time as a BRA Honda driver originated the love?

        1. Yes, well and his love of Japanese culture, having a Japanese GF etc. @jcost

    3. @baron What is

      he ‘grey rinse’ tag


      1. It’s a term to describe their traditional European market – older people with grey hair! It’s something that has dogged Honda for years – especially in Britain, and they try everything to give their products a youthful appeal.

    4. I’d be more inclined to go the other way – Honda want him for 2015, McLaren want to keep their options open.

  6. Then pay a bottom tier team to give them a seat. Simple!

    1. Marussia? Or maybe Sauber, what about Williams

  7. I find that last paragraph very intriguing, when he says that McLaren isn’t afraid of change.

    “We’ve shown in the past that we weren’t afraid to make the changes that we felt that we needed to in the team, whether it was inside the organization or in the driver line-up, in order to get the job done.”

    I’m thinking things at McLaren are perhaps not what they seem at first sight. Perhaps Buttons position is under serious threat. I doubt Perez is going to be kicked out seeing how much money he can provide trough Slim.

    1. I’m thinking JB will have a one year deal in 2014, and might swap seats with Alonso…

  8. Here in Belgium some journalists hope that Vandoorne doesn’t win the title in his rookie season (that would be an incredible result) and that he rather join GP2 or stay in F3.5 next year to gain more experience.

    1. @francorchamps17 Who is saying such nonsense? Kris Wouters and that other puppet or someone form the RTBF?

      1. Well, look what happened to the previous guy who won FR 2.0 and 3.5 in a row..

        1. @npf1 I see what you mean but Vandoorne is already in a YDP. While Frijns only got in one after winning both those titles. Major diffrence I would like to think

  9. I was genuinely expecting the same driver line-up at McLaren next season, but the delay and that statement in the last paragraph suggest there may be a change. I have a feeling that they may be monitoring Hulkenberg’s situation. If there was to be a change, surely Button would be the driver being replaced, not Perez.

    1. Well actually that wouldn’t be the a horrible move by Mclaren. Mind you this would be the second time in a short period that McLaren sign someone that was always being named in one sentence with Ferrari. However I think that boat has sailed. You could seriously be onto something here @deej92.

      But then again why mention this in a article about Magnussen and Vandoorne.

      1. @force-maikel I would be very happy to see such a move, as much as I like Button.

        Until McLaren announce their line-up, they will struggle to avoid these questions, even when on another subject like this one regarding Magnussen and Vandoorne. The thing is Neale didn’t shy away from the question at all – he gave quite a bold statement in that they aren’t afraid to make changes to the driver line-up.

    2. My theory is that Massa is probably going to be considerably cheaper than Button, but is competent and experienced enough to lead a team in 2014, and with McLaren having to pay for next year’s engines, saving a couple of million is a sensible thing in a very much transitory year.

      Perez could also be out if he fails to bring in major support from Mexico, making space for the Hulk (if Massa lands at Lotus) or maybe di Resta.

    3. Long-term, and as a big admirer of Hulkenberg, I’d rather see him go to McLaren than Lotus for next season, it can’t be long until Lotus’ lack of money catches up with them. As poor as McLaren have been this season, they are consistently a competitive team in that they are never away from the front for long.

      I didn’t consider McLaren changing their line-up either but thinking about it, between Button and Hulkenberg, I think I’d go for Hulkenberg. The same goes for Perez too but with Button’s contract situation and Mexico being on next year’s calendar I can’t see him going.

    4. How risky could be a line-up with Sergio Perez and Kevin Magnussen?

  10. By the way, there’s also a Caterham junior in that WSR pic there. Where could he be next season, I wonder..?

  11. Obviously all is not well at McLaren. The warning shot was Ron Dennis recently having insinuated that he misses Lewis and that he might welcome him back at McLaren someday.

  12. this dragging of feet at McLaren has been going on for a while, and it kind of made sense with the driver market wide open… before Kimi signed you coulod have said they were waiting for Kimi to be passed over at RBR and then Ferrari; or they were waiting on the fallout from Ferrari to see if Fernando became available………………but now no one in this BIG FOUR is available so why ??
    We dont actually know their title sponsor for sure next year, it is assumed it is Telmex or associated company due to Perez, but he hasnt signed for next year yet either!!
    What we do know is that Honda are back in 2015. We know they like Button and Japan likes Button; so whats the delay?? Are Telmex on board and want a German for their big assault on the German market?? Does a title sponsor exist in a “signed up” way or has their form caught up with them??

    1. McLaren Petrobras?
      With Massa and Huelkenberg?
      This silly season only ends when the lights go out for the first time in 2014!

  13. There are plenty of drivers out there with the talent, they just don’t have the cash. Then we get into this tragic situation of some 17 year old high school kid getting into F1 because his daddy has all the money.

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