Danish motorcar driver Kevin Magnussen has been given the green light to suit up for McLaren in next season’s Formula 1, ending months of speculation.
The news completes a scintillating two months for Magnussen, who won the 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 championship in late October before joining former champion Jenson Button as a McLaren F1 race driver for 2014.
McLaren, where Magnussen has been a junior driver since 2010, was excited that the 21-year-old Dane would be making the leap up next season.
“Kevin 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,” Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren’s Team Principal, said in a McLaren press release. “Furthermore, the manner in which he won this year's World Series by Renault 3.5 Championship was truly outstanding.”
A dream come true
The new means that Magnussen will become the first Dane to compete in the holy grail of motor racing since Nicolas Kiesa’s five races in 2003.
Making his F1 debut for a McLaren team that has enjoyed championship racers like Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Lewis Hamilton and Mika Häkkinen is a dream come true for the Dane.
“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,” Magnussen said in the McLaren press release. “I’m absolutely overjoyed to be making my Formula 1 debut with McLaren.”
His father's son
The youngster said that he was looking forward to working and learning from the 33-year-old Button, who won the F1 World Championship in 2009 racing for Brawn.
“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,” Magnussen said of Button.
Magnussen is set to become only the fifth Dane to ever race in F1, after Tom Belsø, Jac Nelleman, Kiesa and Jan Magnussen, who is Kevin’s father, holds the Danish record for the most official races at 25 and is the only Danish driver to ever win a point.
Historic day for Danish motor racing
But unlike the previous Danes, Magnussen won't be a reserve and that makes his appointment to McLaren a great day for Danish motor racing, according to Peter Nyggard, a Danish F1 expert.
“A Dane with a starting role for one of the world’s best teams is the greatest ever moment for Danish racing,” Nygaard told metroXpress newspaper. “He could be a potential world champion in four or five years.”
Magnussen replaces Sergio Peréz on the McLaren roster after the 23-year-old Mexican driver was cut a few days ago after spending just one highly disappointing season with the team.
A risky move
The young Dane will have to make the most of his chance in 2014, since McLaren has reportedly been courting former champion Fernando Alonso to return to the team in 2015.
Magnussen's future teammate Button sees potential in the Dane, but warned that taking the F1 jump directly to a big team like McLaren, instead of learning the ropes at a smaller team, could be a risk.
"It's a situation that could light up your career or put an end to it early if it doesn't go well," Button told BBC News. "It's a massive risk for a driver to jump in at the deep end with a team that should be fighting at the front. It could go one way or the other. I hope it goes the positive way because he is someone I want to work with throughout the year, and he needs to be in a good frame of mind."