Rival team reneged on Magnussen deal – Whitmarsh

2014 F1 season

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McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh says a rival team principal reneged on a deal for Kevin Magnussen to drive for them next year.

Earlier this month McLaren confirmed Magnussen will replace Sergio Perez in their driver line-up next year.

But Whitmarsh told the official Formula One website he had tried to place Magnussen at a different team for the 2014 season and believed he had succeeded.

“I hoped and tried to find him a cockpit – I even did a deal and shook hands with a team principal up and down this paddock – an absolute deal – but he stepped back,” said Whitmarsh.

“Even after 25 years I find that difficult to deal with – I know I shouldn’t, but I am still hopelessly naive” he added. “I still think that if you look somebody in the eye and shake hands then that’s a done deal. When it turns out like in the Magnussen case, then I am shocked – and I tell myself ‘learn, don’t be naive’.”

After that Whitmarsh “decided let’s go for it with Kevin ourselves”.

He added that Stoffel Vandoorne, another of McLaren’s development driver’s who finished runner-up to Magnussen in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, will race in GP2 next year if a place cannot be found for him in F1.

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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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32 comments on “Rival team reneged on Magnussen deal – Whitmarsh”

  1. Any guesses as to what team? I’m guessing maybe Force India or Marussia

    1. Hmm, you would think it is one of these teams, as he was rumoured to be placed with both before. Marussia it could be, if they reneged and now want to resign Chilton and the £10m sponsorship he brings. Force India it could be if they agreed to waive the £8m debt they had to McLaren for their technology transfer, then went back to keep their driver options open. Given that Force India always make their driver decisions late on, it is strange that they would have committed to taking a driver on early – but a hand shake is not a signed contract.

      1. It depends on the law whether a handshake is legal or not. And whether there are witnesses. But in certain cases a handshake is as good as a signed contract.

        1. @maarten-f1 – You are right – a handshake or even an oral agreement can constitute a contract. However, in order to do so, it must fulfil the requirements of English law* – these include, amongst other things, that some measure of value (known as “consideration”) has passed between the parties, that there must have been an intention between the parties to create legal relations and there must have been certainty regarding the terms of the agreement. An informal chat between two principals where one agrees to take a young driver for the next season is unlikely to fulfil these criteria (unless Whitmarsh agreed to some concession in return (e.g. McLaren providing technology for discounted rates), both parties were under the impression this was a binding legal agreement and the terms of the contract were agreed (e.g. would McLaren pay Magnussen’s wages?)).

          Furthermore, even if McLaren could show that a valid contract had been entered into, what could they do about it? The courts are very reticent to order that a party physically honours a contract (known as “specific performance”) where a financial remedy would be sufficient. Therefore it’d be highly unlikely that they’d order the rival team to take Magnussen. If McLaren tried to sue for financial compensation, it’d be hard for them to quantify exactly what loss they as a team (as opposed to Magnussen himself) had suffered through Magnussen being unable to drive for that team – especially if he ended up obtaining a seat at another team, like he has.

          *I’m assuming that Whitmarsh’s agreement was not with Ferrari, Torro Rosso or Sauber. As all the other teams are based in England, English law would likely apply to the agreement.

    2. And if it was Force India, it would be ironic if they then took Perez, in effect swapping Magnussen for Perez. Further irony would be if Magnussen proved faster than Perez. But, Perez is experienced so could be faster in the first half of the season.

    3. It’s Marussia I think …

    4. I’d say Force India. Apparently Whitmarsh and Mallya agreed Force India would run Magnussen in the young drivers’ test and then didn’t. I wouldn’t be surprised if the same happened again.

      It’s definitely not Williams or Sauber, as Whitmarsh says that “he” stepped back.

      1. …and he “stepped back” so it wasn’t Frank. I bet it was Red Bull – that darn lying Horner.

        1. @bullfrog I really shouldn’t be laughing at that joke but well done sir :’)

          Damn Red Bull though, trying to sabotage McLaren’s young driver development programme.

          1. @bullfrog I really shouldn’t be laughing at that joke but well done sir :’)

            @vettel1 – ^^This!

    5. i also believe it was Force India. it was heavily rumoured that Martin Whitmarsh asked a couple of team principals, especially Vijay Mallya, to consider Sergio Perez when finilizing their 2014 driver lineup. i think this must have been a somewhat covered message to Force India, putting some pressure on them backing out of a gentlemens agreement. however, i do believe that Force India has a very definite concept about both of their next years drivers, and if Magnussen could not be placed there, Perez won’t be too.

      1. @andrewt don’t you think it would be difficult for force india to backout considering they are customers of mclaren? If they did, they must have a damn good reason, which i can’t think of..

        1. Maybe two or three month back force india may have given a verbal commitment to mclaren to sign kevin which is not a bad option to replace sulking Di Resta,but lot have changed since then, hulk looking for a drive and pastor there with his millions and not to forget Perez. This may have changed Mallaya mind as he got more options

  2. IMO another season in FR 3.5 would be better option for Vandoorne than moving to GP2.

    1. @diceman I don’t see the point of doing that, except for experience. He’s got nothing to prove there. He’s had too good a rookie season to justify another. He was fantastic and was only beaten by Magnussen. Anything other than complete domination of 2014 would be considered a disappointment.

    2. He might as well do GP2 and learn the Pirelli tyres, ahead of a 2015 start.

  3. i admire mclaren for their efforts in bringing new talent to f1

  4. McLaren ridicule themselves by the day. What Martin is saying here is that the Button/ Perez combo was a done deal until the other team decided to renege on the Magnussen deal, or they had another driver planned to partner Button, but decided to go with Magnussen as he was free – Either way, it hints at a total lack of direction and making decisions on the hop. This is excatly the same attitude that saw them botch up Lewis’s contract negotiations and had them make a knee jerk reaction in signing Perez.
    Whitmarsh is no Bernie; so yes he was being naive to think he could do a deal on the basis of a handshake.
    Deals are done via contracts, which are signed by all involved – unless you have the clout of a certain Mr E; then your word is bond. Whitmarsh really needs to go, or the decision making aspect at McLaren should be taken on by someone else.

    1. And then then naive Perez was given the schock treatment.
      Who is he kidding about being naive.
      If the supposed team boss realised that running Kevin wasn’t in their own interest because of outside events, it is equally matched by Withmarsh deciding running Perez wasn’t in their interest due to whatever.
      So Withmarsh contradicts himself by proving you can be forced to change your mind.

    2. +1

      It’s Martin Whitmarsh who redicules himself by the day.

  5. Whitmarsh seems too ‘nice’ to do his job in a huge team.

    Not sure if I’m just totally underestimating the guy but… of all the team principals, I get the impression Whitmarsh would be the most likely to not mind if I ‘lost my wallet’ when it was my round.

  6. I think we should should watch where Perez goes and that may be our culprit.

  7. OK, Marussia/Force India broke a promise. So what? If there is no seat it doesn’t matter how talented you are, you don’t end up in F1. Well, unless you are part of the McLaren Young Programme this is, where you get parachuted into the top squad to the detriment of a top driver who is doing a top job. Not particularly surprising that Perez has just said that leaving McLaren is “the best thing for his career”. I wonder what the 2015 driver line-up will be for McLaren? Button-Vandoorne after yet another driver fails to live up to McLaren’s standards? Not everyone is a Hamilton or a Hakkinen. Not impressed.

    1. Not until they have had a chance to show whether they are or not. Perez had his chance and showed he was not.

  8. Button should be happy that Martin haven’t shook a hand of another team boss trying to find a seat for Stoffel as well.

  9. I get the feeling it won’t matter who drives a McLaren next year it will still be slow. It’s a lottery next year. If by chance McLaren are fast then so be it, but I think their target is 2015. It’s probably been a carefully executed business plan, so why not shove a few new guys in there to give them a chance.

  10. Let me get this straight nobody want it the next fastest driver that f1 has yet to see ?

    This prodigious kid that after doing some simulator is most likely that will do a Vettel ?

    But the again who can trust MW all his say are excuses or half truth …..

    1. How much will they pay KM?

      1. Is he getting paid at all?

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