Momentum behind Kevin Magnussen‘s hopes for a 2014 Formula One seat is growing, as it is understood the Dane is the favorite to race alongside Jenson Button in 2014 at Mclaren.
Magnussen was recently crowned the Formula Renault 3.5 champion in Spain after fending off season-long pressure from fellow Mclaren junior driver, Stoffel Vandoorne. His performances throughout the season warranted a place for him in the Young Drivers’ Test over the summer, where Magnussen impressed in his debut in a Formula One car.
Since then, Magnussen has been attending most Grands Prix as his role with Mclaren grows increasingly more involved. This role, as reported by some, is expected to transition into race driver for 2014.
While Mclaren’s faith in Kevin is undoubted, many worry and rightly so that kicking Sergio Perez out of the team after just one year would be incredibly harsh, especially since the young Mexican has shown that he is seriously quick on a number of occasions this season. Those occasions, though, have not happened on a regular enough basis for Mclaren’s liking, and the team has said on more than one occasion that they expected more from Perez.
That seems rather unfair of the team, considering it is not Perez’s fault the car was so un-competitive this season. When a car underperforms, experience is the deciding factor more often than not in which driver comes out on top. That puts Button at an immediate advantage, not to mention the three extra years at the team he boasts. The odds were stacked up against Perez from the beginning, and he has done a great job so far in holding his own against his world champion teammate.
But, you can see the logic in the team’s desire to promote Magnussen. Unlike Perez, Mclaren have been nurturing him for years. They helped Kevin secure the funds for his Formula Renault campaigns and even secured a position in the recent GP2 post-season tests, although Kevin had to pull out before they started.
Mclaren’s relationship with Perez is completely different. The Mexican was actually a part of Ferrari’s Young Driver scheme before he donned the Rocket Red of Mclaren. Perez was tipped to replace Felipe Massa at the end of 2012, but thanks to his inexperience and a resurgence in form for Massa late last year, that scenario never came to fruition.
When Lewis Hamilton left Mclaren, the timing was perfect to snatch up the young prospect before anyone else got him. In the end, their decision perhaps wasn’t the best, as almost everyone agrees that Nico Hulkenberg is more deserving of a top seat.
Mclaren has only been invested in Perez since he joined the team. There is no background to their relationship and, as such, one could argue that they owe him nothing past his contract (or even less, depending on how clever their lawyers are). That is a shame as Perez is a very good driver, but when one of your own is on the brink of a Formula One berth, there is really no other option but to give him the chance. That is the cutthroat nature of Formula One.