McLaren has confirmed that Kevin Magnussen will partner Jenson Button next season, replacing the departing Sergio Perez.
Magnussen, who was crowned as the 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 champion last month, joined McLaren’s young driver programme in 2010 and had been strongly linked with the seat of the under underperforming Sergio Perez over the last week, with a number of sources claiming that the Dane would definitely race for the Woking-based squad in 2014.
Perez, who joined McLaren from Sauber only this year, released a statement on Wednesday confirming that he would leave the team, which was seen as a sign that an announcement regarding Magnussen was imminent.
Magnussen, whose father drove in a one-off race for McLaren at the 1995 Pacific Grand Prix, becomes the first rookie driver to race for the team since Lewis Hamilton in 2007.
“I’m absolutely overjoyed to be making my Formula 1 debut with McLaren,” said the 21-year-old. “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.
“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. I won’t let you down, guys!
“Equally, in Jenson, I have absolutely the ideal team-mate. 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.”
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren’s Team Principal was equally pleased to have finalised his teams’ line-up for 2014 and expressed his excitement about the coming year.
“We’re delighted that Kevin will be joining Jenson as a McLaren Formula 1 race driver for 2014,” he said. “Their confirmation is an important step for us as we continue to strengthen our organisation ahead of the 2014 season. Next year, we’ll witness the biggest raft of technical changes to Formula 1 in many years, and every team and manufacturer will be pushed to the limit as they try their best to adapt to those new challenges.”
“Jenson’s race-winning speed, intelligence and racecraft have long been a crucial advantage to McLaren, but it’s his skill as a development driver and his peerless technical feedback that will be equally valuable as we make the transition into a new and complex technical formula during the winter and new year.
“Kevin, too, 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.
“Furthermore, the manner in which he won this year’s World Series by 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.”
Images courtesy of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes