McLaren confirm Magnussen will replace Perez

2014 F1 season

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McLaren have confirmed they will replace Sergio Perez with rookie Kevin Magnussen in 2014.

Magnussen, 21, won this year’s Formula Renault 3.5 championship in emphatic style, taking five races wins along the way and losing another on a technicality. He also impressed the team during his Young Driver Test appearance for them at Silverstone in July.

Team principal Martin Whitmarsh said Magnussen was “clearly very talented and very determined, and we therefore have high hopes for him”.

“Moreover, every time he’s tested our Formula One car, he’s been very quick and very methodical, and his feedback has been first-class.

“Furthermore, the manner in which he won this year’s [Formula] Renault 3.5 championship was truly outstanding, showcasing as it did not only his impressive natural pace but also his increasing maturity and ability to structure and manage a championship campaign.”

Magnussen said he was “absolutely overjoyed” to be making his debut with McLaren and vowed “I won’t let you down, guys.”

“I’ll put it simply: this team is the best,” Magnussen added. “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 One 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.”

McLaren rarely promote rookie drivers to their race team. Magnussen is the first to have the chance since Lewis Hamilton in 2007.

Before that the last driver to make his race debut for McLaren was Magnussen’s father Jan in the 1995 Pacific Grand Prix, substituting for an unwell Mika Hakkinen. It was a one-off drive, though Magnussen later spent a year and a half racing for Stewart.

Whitmarsh also added his thanks to outgoing driver Perez, who he said “has developed well during a difficult season, as his recent run of points-scoring finishes underlines”.

“He’s a lovely guy and a fine driver – fast and combative – and I’m sure he’ll build on that firm foundation in 2014,” added Whitmarsh. “All at McLaren wish him well for the future.”

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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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89 comments on “McLaren confirm Magnussen will replace Perez”

  1. Told ya so :) I only hope Mclaren can build a decent car now, more so, get their team back together to offer him an opportunity

  2. We will see how this goes. Magnussen’s own father is an example of a driver who swept all before him in the junior formulae, but flopped when he got to F1. But Button will be a good mentor and a great yardstick for Kevin.

    1. But Button will be a good mentor

      If McLaren keeps taking drivers with limited experience, Button has a change for a long career with the team :-).

      1. Lewis was pretty good against a 2xWDC who happens to be the best of his generation. Kevin has less mileage than rookie Lewis but I think he can give Button reasons to be concerned…

    2. Pretty much that. And this press release does not sound all that different from the great exitement they had at signing Perez either, so lets see how it pans out @red-andy.

      On the other hand, at least someone is giving a promising driver a chance. And where better to find your feet than in a mid grid team, eh!

      1. @BasCB

        And where better to find your feet than in a mid grid team, eh!


      2. @bascb, lets hope he succeeds and brings the team along with him.

    3. Do you know anything about Kevin’s upbringing though? Do you realize that Jan was of much more talent than devotion and that he taught his son all the disciplines he lacked himself from the moment Kevin showed an interest in cars.

      Kevin is a very different breed compared to his father and doesn’t deserve direct comparison. It is not a joke or exaggeration when Kevin says he has been devoting almost every day of his life to reach this goal.

      There are a vast amount of circumstances that determines a drivers success in F1 and whether or not Kevin makes it far there is no doubt that this is the type of super-devoted youngster it will take to give Vettel a run for his money.

      1. And one day he might be a WDC and be able to criticise working children in the 3rd. world.

  3. One Word: Awesome.

    1. Great for him. Given the hype McLaren said, I expect win at his rookie season.

    2. I really like it. It’s a breathe of fresh air to see a talented young driver getting a drive on merit. Sure it’s becoming luxury and only big teams seem capable of such moves but it’s great. Too bad Felix Da Costa isn’t there too :(

      Congrats Denmark.

  4. Greats new – very happy for him and the team.

  5. While the season itself has been pretty boring, the Silly Season has been probably the best and most exciting ever. Can’t wait for 2014.

    1. Agreed – Definitely been a season to forget, but all of this is a welcome surprise (for us, the fans, not so much for some of the drivers!).

    2. Yes, the Russians, Magnussen coming into the circus, Latinos fighting for their career (Massa, Maldonado, Perez, Gutierrez) and Di Resta and Hulkenberg still surrounded by uncertainties… we could not ask for more.

  6. Hope he goes further than his Pops.

    1. His ‘Pops’ deserves more credit. He’s a damn good sports car racer. Multiple ALMS championships and Lemans 24 HRS podiums are not achieved by a slouch.

      1. That is true and though there is no doubt about Jan’s talent he probably didn’t handle his F1 career as well as he could have. When he was young he more or less believe that his talent could take him anywhere. Enter F1; and all of a sudden you are up against guys that lives and breaths their sport and to whom everything they do is designed to improve their odds. I think Jan realized too late how tough the game was in the big league.

    2. Jan was awesome. He probably did not fit into the era he competed in and would have been much more suited to 80’s F1. From what I remember, he was rushed in with too little experience also…………

  7. Feel bad for Perez, he maybe could have done with another year but i’m happier for Magnussen than I am sad for Perez. I’ve been watching him for a couple of years and he really does have the right stuff. Raw ability only gets you so far and Magnussen has the other side of the coin – mental strength and commitment – nailed too, so he’s ideally suited for F1. Provided McLaren get their act together and produce a good car Magnussen will do very well.

  8. This team is the best

    Ha I remember Pérez saying the same and look how it turned out.

    1. To be fair, he basically said the same thing after being released.

      I don’t think they’re saying “they are the most competitive team on the grid”, I think it’s a broader statement.

      1. And also to be fair, what else would you expect a bloke to say at the start of a contract?

  9. Shame for Perez as I didn’t really think he did anything wrong as he was pretty quick, matching Jenson pretty much. Everyone keeps raving about this guy so we’ll see. Good luck to him

    1. I kind of understand the sentiments of people feeling bad for Perez, but there was a lot of hype for him in 2012. The general consensus was that people expected him to beat Button, and he didn’t do that.

      I would say i’m surprised, though. Teams usually stick with guys for two seasons. Not often you see someone turfed out after one, generally speaking.

      1. Having poached Perez out of Ferrari’s development scheme, McLaren may have been concerned that another team would snap up Magnussen if they delayed getting him into F1. They could have farmed him out to Force India or Marussia, of course, but maybe they felt that they could teach him more and monitor his development better this way.

        1. I see it more the other way round. I think McLaren thought they’d snatched a gem from Ferrari and called their bluff on their ignorance when they came out and said ‘Sergio is not ready’.

          Ferrari essentially got the last laugh, I guess.

          1. I’m not convinced that Perez would have been worse than Massa.

        2. @red-andy – Good points and I think that probably has a lot to do with the timing. Plus it gives him a full season of racing for McLaren ahead of Honda’s arrival in 2015.

    2. Having half the points is ‘matching Jenson pretty much’ ? Don’t change your day job.

      1. With this logic Hulkenberg is still a far cry from getting a top team drive.

        1. …and that might well still be the case..!

    3. matching Jenson pretty much

      And that exactly was his problem. He was supposed to beat Button, not match him.

      I think Mclaren (and me too) see Button as a solid no.2 driver. A driver who will drive the no.1 driver in the team but be wise enough to pay heed to the team’s interests. So, if the team is keeping Button, they obviously want someone who is the no.1. Perez was getting beaten by Button in qualifying!!
      By continuing with Perez, Mclaren would effectively have two no.2 drivers. Why would a team do that?

    4. Perez was quick at some circuits….think his mistake was to try and run his team mate off the road a couple of times….before he had established himself in the team….and he seemed to be involved in all sorts of silly incidents throughout the season…..and when Whitmarsh starts to refer to Perez as Sergio and not Chico….your time is up

  10. Michael Brown (@)
    14th November 2013, 13:58

    Hopefully he will be closer to Button than Pérez was, or McLaren will look even sillier

    1. Sillier? But mightn’t it also mean Button is quicker than people think he is? Selective memories here. I’m not particularly a Button fan, but how did he become “Jenslow” in just one season? Something drop off?

      1. Button isn’t quick and never has been. He won his Championship in a car that was more dominant in the first half of the season than a Red Bull ever has been.

        Jenson has one thing to thank for his championship and one thing only. And when he retires, and his retirement ceremony, he should stand in front of the people and give a big thank you to the man that made it all happen….Mr Double Diffuser.

        1. That’s just not correct. Jenson’s race pace is up there with everyone else and his race craft is probably the best actually, perhaps behind Alonso. So I don’t know what you’re on about.

          1. @aced I do think Button is slightly underrated. I’d say he’s on a par with Rosberg, someone I also think is grossly underrated. And Button was brilliant in 2011, whilst Hamilton floundered spectacularly.

          2. @vettel1 I agree with you, he was the only driver in the field who could keep up best with Vettel, the others only had a few good races. His style is not aggressive to make him be on top for one lap, but his pace on race day is up there with the other champions.

        2. So, what can we expect Vettel to worship on his retirement? The Red Bull wind tunnel or Didi Mateschitz’s bank account?

  11. As a Dane, then Formula 1 will be followed more intensely than it is already being done. It is absolutely fantastic with a Danish Formula 1 driver who might have the talent to win the championship one day. Woohoo!

  12. Seen him race just a couple of times, but it’s always exciting to me when a rookie immediately gets a top-drive (I know they’re not currently). Ferrari should follow example instead of hiring drivers who they think are “experienced” enough. Since when has Ferrari decided against hiring rookies? Enzo Ferrari hired rookies himself, most notably Gilles Villeneuve.

    1. @roald, I wouldn’t be surprised if Marciello would be promoted to Sauber rather than Marussia in a few years, maybe even Ferrari themselves, depending on Alonso being around.

      Post-Enzo, Ferrari has been suffering from selective memory. Like not hiring Italian drivers because of Capelli and holding on to Brazilian drivers for too long (Massa). Not to mention their odd reaction to Schumacher signing for Mercedes.

      1. @npf1
        I have no doubt about Marciello possibility to make it to F1, the guy is talented, has already won the european F1 and he’s a member of the FDA, but he has to make a one final step before F1 i mean GP2 or FR 3.5, BTW he has been impressive in his first GP2 test in Abu Dhabi

        holding on to Brazilian drivers for too long (Massa)

        Since 2010 Ferrari were looking for a replacement of Massa, Kubica was a serious candidate for the 2012 seat but then he got injured, Roseberg refused an offer from Ferrari to join them in 2012 following his father’s advise, Button refused an offer from Ferrari to join them in 2012 and said he will never work with Fernando on the same universe, Webber also refused an offer to join the team in 2012, Hamiton admitted that he was having contacts with Ferrari for the 2013 seat but the will of Lauda/Ecclestone drove him to Mercedes and Vettel extended his contract twice the first expires in 2014 and the second one in 2015
        It is not Ferrari’s fault if the best drivers are not available

        1. @tifoso1989

          Marciello…has to make a one final step before F1

          Hence I said ‘in a few years’. Lello is pretty young and had some troubled weekends this season, I think Ferrari will want him to get rid of weekends like the one he had in Zandvoort before getting serious about F1. He did look good in GP2 testing, but I don’t know how Ferrari feels about FR3.5 vs GP2. They had Bianchi in FR3.5 obviously, but I think in GP2 it’s easier to stand out amongst the paydrivers, maybe.

          Since 2010 Ferrari were looking for a replacement of Massa

          Which is why I was a little disappointed they only went for names like Rosberg, Button, Webber and Hamilton. It’s not Ferrari’s fault they aren’t willing or available, but I do think they could have looked beyond the above and taken on a driver who isn’t of the same level, but more consistent than Massa. It’s a shame Perez and Bianchi were too young/inexperienced to join, but with Bianchi, Marciello and Fuoco coming up, I don’t think Raikkonen is a long term solution either.

          Granted, Ferrari isn’t a good place for rookies to learn, but they signed Eddie Irvine before, so I’m sure they could have signed a guy like Sutil even.

          1. In my second paragraph it should read ‘of the same level as Rosberg, Button, etc. Not ‘not of the same level as Massa’, because that would be going backwards.

    2. @roald

      Ferrari should follow example instead of hiring drivers who they think are “experienced” enough.

      Ferrari is another reality in F1 if you still didn’t noticed that, the amount pressure that surronds Maranello makes it absolutely impossible to hire a rookie, even a driver of the personality & caliber of Alonso himself when he critised the car he has been bashed publicaly by Montezemolo
      Ferrari is not a place to learining it’s a place for delivering the maxmum you can deliver
      I don’t know on what example are you talking about, McLaren !!!! come on Ferrari them selves said that Sergio wasn’t ready for a top team and now look what happened !!!
      It is true that Enzo was always gambeling on unknown drivers but that was Enzo ,the man had a 6th sense of descovering drivers just like Cus D’amato in boxing plus i can’t compare any of the rookies that are making their ways to F1 to the likes of Surtees,Lauda or Villeneuve

  13. There seems to be a lot of hype around this kid as if he’s going to be the next Lewis. I’m hope people don’t get their expectations too high for him.

    1. Lest he may end exactly like his predecessor. It is not like McLaren needed a change in line up. It seems like they needed to bring Magnusses into F1 at any cost – think about it, first brokering with Torro Rosso and now firing Perez to accomodate the rookie.
      Anyhow, despite feeling like many here that Perez deserves a second year in a competitive car, i think this will be a good opprutinity for Perez to learn how to overtake cleanly before coming back again. As for Magnussen, time will tell. And as for Ferrari hiring practices, well if they are ready to pay what they are paying to get a driver then i dont see why they must roll the dice at all. For the McLaren board this might make sense, they seem stingy. At this rate they will never get FA for 2014, becauses that means paying FA and breaking his contract. Ferrari will much rather have a driver sit out scraping the tires at a kings salary than let him race them, obviously.

  14. Mikkel Sørensen (@)
    14th November 2013, 14:21

    As a Dane I am very much looking forward to this! It is simply amazing. I am literally jumping up and down in pure joy. Prepare for a danish invasion at many of the european circuits in 2014 just like it is at Le Mans year after year. :-)

  15. I’m still baffled by this. Totally moronic decision in my opinion.

    1. HAHAHA yeah right!

    2. And now !

  16. Feeling sad for Perez here . He started to make too many aggressive moves and spoilt his chances .

    1. wasnt it mclaren that told him he needed to be more aggressive after the first 5-6 races?

  17. Well he’s certainly making the right noises. There can be no doubt he wants to emulate Hamiltons rookie/McLaren success, it’ll certainly be interesting to see how he gets on, and the world will be watching!

  18. While I’m happy for Kevin and expect him to do well, it does make me wonder where the sense in signing Perez was. Was he a stop-gap? Was Magnussen’s 2012 in WSR so disappointing?

    Regardless, great to see McLaren take a chance with this Magnussen, and hopefully he fares better than his father did at Stewart (though Verstappen proved there wasn’t much to gain in that team next to Barrichello anyway).

  19. As a swede I’m delighted to hear that yet another scandinavian find his way into F1. Finnish drivers have always ben around since I started watching F1 back in the late 90’s, but now also a dane joins the party! I have pretty much given up hope for Marcus Ericsson after 4 years in GP2, but I’m happy for Denmark and hopefully it will bring a little more attention to the sport here up in the north.

    1. We.still have Felix rosenqvist :)

    2. Yeah as a Finn it’s also great to see more drivers from north :-)

    3. True, if we would only have that Swedish driver to enter the series, we could have a proper and light-hearted neighbors competition, much like with ice hockey. Cheers from Finland!

  20. Great and expected news.
    McLaren knows the driver, know his abilities. He will grown in the team.
    He is not his father.

    If he take Button as a teacher, he will have big sucess in the future.

    1. +1
      Well said!
      Greetings from a Danish Senna fan in Brazil.

  21. I really like strong teams taking “risks” with rookies when they are very talented. That payed off with Hamilton, and I surely hope it does with Magnussen, both for the team and the driver. Best of luck to both!

  22. It’s always nice to see new drivers enter into F1, and quite exciting to have a rookie going into one of the biggest teams in the sport next year. However, it has come at the price of Sergio Perez’s seat, a driver who I rate quite highly. So, from my perspective, for Magnussen to be considered a success next year (as Perez was considered a failure by McLaren this year) he will have to come very close to beating, if not beating Jenson Button outright. Button being a fine driver with huge experience and is also a world champion. It was a tall order for Perez and he apparently failed to meet McLaren’s standards. Let’s see how this new man does.

    1. I’m not convinced Mac considered Perez a failure…just wanted to go with someone they think is even better, and presumably for the longer term. I don’t know the answer to this but was SP a long term consideration? Or was he half expecting his tenure would only be for a year? I don’t sense there is utter shock at SP being let go.

      As to KM next year…I fully expect that he may do no better than SP did this year, relative to JB. It’s all going to come down to how their car is, and how it suits each driver. I feel like the KM signing is for the long haul so I don’t think he MUST do better than SP or be considered a failure. There are too many variables and too many unknowns to simply expect KM to best SP just because the team made this decision. Especially in his first year in F1.

      What I think will be very interesting, assuming their car isn’t rife with problems, is to see if KM (and some others) is right that since the new format is new for everyone, experience is less key in 2014 than it would normally be, and KM, for example, won’t have any preconceived notions hindering his 2014 effort. He’ll only know turbos in F1 moving forward due to his minimal running in 2013 cars.

      I think it is very easy to argue the other side of the coin that since the format is new, experience will be more key than ever in getting on top of the steep learning curve more quickly than others.

      1. I’m not at all surprized, this is just the logic end to a chain of events.

        When Hamilton left McLaren last year the team had to replace him. But that was not the only challenge McLaren faced. The team was not comfortable having Mercedes as engine supplier when Mercedes F1 was poaching McLaren staff left right and center. McLaren basically had to choose between Perez and Hulkenberg. I suspect the lure of Perez money made them choose him, big mistake. This might have been caused by McLarens need for money, allready last year McLaren might have realized it would be tough to party with the big spenders this year (perhaps that’s why Hamilton left?).

        The game changed immediately when the Honda-deal was struck. McLaren was right back as a top team receiving Hondas full attention and recources. The name of the game from that moment on was to mobilize and prepare for 2015. Perez had been weighed, measured and found wanting. The top drivers were not available so they went for young talent.

        I totally understand why the team chose that path. The only thing I don’t understand is why they yet again overlooked Hulkenberg. He would have been the best choice in my view unless Magnussen turns out to be extraordinary.

        1. Yes, I completely agree except for not hiring Hulkenberg. You probably recall how much people in here were complaining – when it was rumored that Kimi was a contender for Mark’s seat – about not using drivers from Red Bull’s own academy. Well, Kevin has been “McLaren property” almost since before he was conceived, in he sense that the team always felt they owed his father for not giving him a proper chance.

  23. David not Coulthard (@)
    14th November 2013, 15:28

    …and his dad drove for what is now the reigning WCC which the current WDC is a part of. Wow.

    And what happened to Checo reminds me of last year. I wasn’t happy when Kobayashi left while Sergio got to drive for the team that built the best car in 2012. A year later we see karma.

  24. This signing is a ‘knock on’ effect of Marc Marques winning the moto gp title in his rokkie year. Team bosses have seen that experience does not matter if the talent is big enough. Hard luck on Peres though, he wasn’t that bad. I cannot understand why people have such a negative view on Maldonado also, he outraced Bottas (who is highly rated) this year, and won against ALONSO! In a good car, he could be quite successful.

    1. As much of a MotoGP fan as I am, I don’t think this is true in the slightest. McLaren have signed rookies before – just look at HAM for the most recent example.

      1. hello kitty agrees you have a point, but why the indifference to Maldonado. I’d love to see him a a good car again, he has a little bit of a crazy streak, like all the good drivers.

    2. I’m not sure it’s a knock on effect from a different sport, more just they see the potential in Magnussen and want to put him on track and the situation has presented itself.

      After all last time they tried it (McLaren), they got Lewis Hamilton which is a pretty good return!

      1. that’s very true

  25. The only good news for upcoming season.

  26. Now lets hope he crushes Button

    Alonso – Magnussen Mclaren 2015

    1. @todfod interesting tip. Does that imply Vettel-Räikkönen at Ferrari in 2015?

      1. Does that mean Hamilton – Button back together in Red Bull ??

      2. If Kimi is still around :)

  27. Good to see a champion rewarded. The champions of both Formula Renault 3.5 and GP3 will be in F1 next year, which says all you need to know about GP2…

    He should also become F1’s best ever Kevin. The only other one I can think of is Kevin Cogan, who drove a Lotus standing in for Nigel Mansell, I believe…

  28. So, we will see a Dane in F1 for the first time since Nicolas Kiesa in 2003! I’m really looking forward to seeing what he can do and hopefully he can give the team a much needed boost. I am still really gutted about Perez because he really did deserve another year, but I’ll be backing Magnussen along with Perez regardless of where he ends up.

  29. Let’s not forget that next year they are completely new rules and regulations. He should and will be expected to match and beat Jenson from the start. Being quick in the simulator is one thing, these tyres are so temperamental only God knows how he will perform.

  30. Just saw a tv broadcast with Jan, Kevins dad, who talked about how Kevin got to know the seat was his. Apparantly he was working in the simulator, when he got a call to come up and sign some papers, after which he was send back to the símulator to continue work…. ;)

  31. McLaren backtrack their idea of line-up. Mclaren said that Perez was promoted because of merit but Perez was just a failed marketing move, this time they chose talent but still I can’t see McLaren not going after Maldonado.

    1. really, perez only found himself at mclaren first and foremost due to the hamilton vaccuum

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