Despite the 2014 grid slowly filling up, McLaren are still pushing to get their young drivers Kevin Magnussen and Stoffel Vandoorne – who currently occupy the top two positions in the Formula Renault 3.5 standings – in Formula 1 for next season.
Both are part of McLaren’s young driver programme and team principal Martin Whitmarsh has revealed that on their quest to find a seat for them, negotiations have taken place with Lotus, Force India and Marussia.
The talks have not yet been successful but Whitmarsh says the team will keep pushing to find them a chance to race in F1. He told AUTOSPORT: “We have tried at Force India, Lotus, and Marussia. We have to get them into F1.
“I think they are both really, really good guys and both will get into F1. We have a duty of care to get them there. They are pretty special.”
One possibility would be to replace Sergio Perez, whose future at the Woking based squad has been questioned, but with the lack of pre-season testing, Whitmarsh believes that could be a big risk: “I think it is a risk for them and for us. We did it with Lewis [Hamilton] but, when you look back on the amount of running we could give Lewis beforehand, it was easier. You never know – but at the moment we are trying hard elsewhere.”
He also revealed that Magnussen had a chance to drive for Force India at the Silverstone Young Driver Test. That didn’t work out and he was selected by McLaren to complete running for them at the last minute: “We had agreed to put Kevin into the Force India seat for the young driver test, and I shook hands with Vijay [Mallya] on it. But for some reason or other that didn’t seem to bind him. Kevin was only put in at the last minute for us at Silverstone.
“He has had two runs in an F1 car [and] in Abu Dhabi, on his third flying lap, he did a time that was good enough for sixth on the grid, which is pretty impressive.”
Recent reports have linked Magnussen to a drive at Force India and a driver deal could be a factor in negotiating an extension to their current technical partnership with the Silverstone based squad: “They want to extend, but we haven’t agreed to that. But at the same time, I don’t want leverage. One way or another we will find a way.”
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic