Whitmarsh aware of Magnussen risk

Friday 20-December-2013 07:58

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh is confident that the signing of rookie Kevin Magnussen for the 2014 season won't leave the Woking outfit with 'egg on its face'.

The decision to recruit the 21-year-old Dane as a replacement for Sergio Perez is reminiscent of 2007 when then-rookie Lewis Hamilton was signed to partner Fernando Alonso.

After a difficult 2013 season during which McLaren failed to claim a podium finish, Whitmarsh admitted that there is an element of risk in having such an inexperienced driver as Jenson Button's team-mate, he is confident that Magnussen will impress just as much as Hamilton did in his debut season.

Hamilton narrowly missed out on winning the title, finishing seventh at the final race of the year to hand Kimi Raikkonen a one-point victory.

"We did it with Lewis, but how many times in your career does that happen, because we could have had egg on our face," Whitmarsh told Britain's Independent newspaper.

"The one thing I'll say - and I hesitate to say this thinking about it, but I'll say it - it was easier for Lewis because we pounded him with testing in a way you can't any more. So there's a risk, but we wouldn't be doing it unless we didn't think it would work out,"

Magnussen was given the opportunity at McLaren after winning the WSbR title and impressing during the Young Driver test at Yas Marina, where he posted a time that would have seen him qualify in sixth position at the same circuit during on race weekend. The son of former driver Jan Magnussen then impressed again during a similar test in July at Silverstone.

"What was impressive was the consistency," Whitmarsh continued.

"There was not a single mistake.

"I also happened to participate in the engineering debrief at the end of the day and he had a number of engineers around him and at least 20 on video conference. I sat there listening to his feedback, how clear and precise he was, the confidence, and realising 'this guy is special'.

"He'd put his car on pole and had Antonio Felix da Costa alongside him.

"At the start, da Costa outbraked himself into the first corner. The Kevin of old wouldn't have seen it and ... bump! But Kevin saw him and let him through, which went against all his instincts. I rang him immediately after the race and said 'Kevin, that is the most impressive thing I've ever seen you do'.

"Knowing he was lightning quick, he then had to learn how to win a championship, and that is what he did. He just impressed everyone through this year."

© 2014 - 365 Media Group

Any reproduction, publication or redistribution of this material without the written agreement of 365 Media Group is strictly forbidden.