His Dad was a McLaren driver – for one Grand Prix. Now Kevin Magnussen is looking forward to a slightly longer spell with one of F1’s grandee teams.
Jan Magnussen of Denmark came into F1 on the crest of a wave, rated as the finest winner of the prestigious British F3 title since a man by the name of Ayrton Senna.
It didn’t quite turn out that way as Magnussen failed to build on a one-race fill-in role with McLaren in 1995 when he was named as partner to Rubens Barrichello in the new-for-1997 Stewart Grand Prix team.
Maybe youngsters do learn from their parents after all. Jan’s son Kevin is raring to kick-start his own, full-time McLaren career this weekend and feels he and the team have done all they can to get him ready for the step up.
“It is a dream come true and every day is fantastic at the moment,” said the 21-year-old reigning Formula Renault 3.5 champion as he faced his first official F1 press conference at Albert Park on Thursday.
“It’s been a long winter since signing, I really have been looking forward to this week.
“It’s not easy: it’s a big job, a big challenge,” he added, “but I think I’m pretty much as ready as you can be at this stage. I’m still not under-estimating the challenge that I’m facing.”
Magnussen was one of the exceptions in pre-season testing: not only was he quick, topping the times on more than one occasion, but he got in a great deal of running – over 400 laps of solid F1 experience under his youthful belt.
“The car feels good. If you didn’t know the lap times of the other cars you would think that it’s pretty fast and that’s a good sign,” he said. “If we can just put some down-force on the car and keep developing as we did over the winter we can be in a good position.
“It just feels like a Formula 1 car,” he explained. “I don’t have a lot of experience with Formula 1 cars but the car that we had last year just didn’t have the right feeling about it. This year’s car is responding well to set-up changes and just has a good feel about it.”
It’s no secret that McLaren are looking for big things after a hugely disappointing 2013, which prompted the return of Ron Dennis to front-line action.
“The team come off a difficult season and they are massively motivated to come back to where they belong,” is Magnussen’s view.
One of his father’s problems in his 24-race career with Stewart was his inability to match Brazilian teammate Rubens Barrichello’s pace. Might Kevin suffer the same fate against his World Champion partner at McLaren, Jenson Button?
“We all know that you are measured a lot against your teammate but I don’t see it like that,” he said calmly. “I will try and do my best, learn as much as I can in the early part of the season and see where it takes me.
“There’s a lot of pressure being in Formula 1, especially when you’re with a big team as I am, but it’s where I want to be. I’ve always dreamt of being with McLaren – now I’m here, I’ll do my best and try not to worry too much about the negative things.”