McLaren protege Kevin Magnussen believes he is ready to make the step up to a full-time Formula One race seat next year and is hoping the Woking-based team’s efforts to find him a drive on the grid pay off.
McLaren have been speaking to a number of teams, including Lotus, Marussia and Force India about getting Magnussen a drive for next year so the Dane, recently crowned Formula Renault 3.5 world champion, can learn the ropes at midfield or lower rung teams before eventually making the step up to the former world champions.
“Yeah, I’m very hopeful it will come off. I feel very ready for it,” Magnussen told reporters over the Indian Grand Prix weekend.
“I think that knowing more about it gives you an idea of what it takes. And the strongest thing is that I just feel ready in my gut, I have a gut feeling that I am ready, I wouldn’t feel uncomfortable doing it,” the 21-year-old added.
McLaren have technical partnerships with both Marussia and Force India, both of whom are yet to announce their complete driver line-ups for next season.
Marussia potentially have one seat up for grabs but the team recently agreed an engine deal with Ferrari and extended their protégé Jules Bianchi’s contract for another year while Max Chilton told reporters at the Buddh International Circuit that his chances of retaining his seat looked pretty good even if nothing had yet been decided.
Force India – who typically tend to leave their driver announcements late in the day — are also yet to confirm current drivers Adrian Sutil and Paul Di Resta for next year and the team have repeatedly said that their driver decision won’t be made until around the time of the Indian Grand Prix.
Lotus, meanwhile, are looking for a replacement for Kimi Raikkonen but the leading contender for that seat is Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg while Pastor Maldonado has also been linked to the drive thanks to the backing he brings in the form of petro-dollars from Venezuelan state-owned oil firm PDVSA .
Magnussen said he didn’t know what team he had the best chance of driving for next year but made it clear that he was ready to step into a top team straight away and deal with the pressure of delivering the sort of results expected of a driver driving for a major name.
“Yeah, if I get the chance with a big team, then it would be because they expect me to deliver the results.”
“I would only be chosen for a good team, if they think that I’m the best solution so of course they would expect that. I’ve won in everything I’ve driven so I think why would that stop in Formula One?”
Magnussen is the son of former former Formula One driver Jan who raced in Formula One in the mid-nineties for McLaren and Stewart. Jan wasn’t particularly successful in Formula One, despite an impressive junior career, and Magnussen junior was asked whether his father failing to deliver on his potential hung over his career in any way.
“No, I’m not my dad,” Magnussen replied.
“I don’t have the same skills, I don’t have the same anything. I’m different. He is a great racing driver as well so it’s different. It was a different era, a different time, a different driver.”
“He has always been my idol, my hero and he still is so, for sure, I’ve always looked up to him and learned from him.”
Image courtesy Octane Photographic