Whitmarsh: Rival team reneged on 2014 Magnussen deal

By on Saturday, November 23, 2013
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh says that a rival team principal reneged on a deal to sign Kevin Magnussen for 2014.

Formula Renault 3.5 Series champion Magnussen will race for McLaren next season but Whitmarsh says that he originally had a deal with a rival team for Magnussen to make his debut elsewhere in 2014.

"Kevin is an extraordinary young man who deserves to be in F1," Whitmarsh told F1.com. "I hoped and tried to find him a cockpit - I even did a deal and shook hands with a team principal up and down this paddock - an absolute deal - but he stepped back…"

Whitmarsh would not name the rival team involved in the collapsed deal.

"I would like to but I won’t. Even after 25 years I find that difficult to deal with - I know I shouldn’t, but I am still hopelessly naive. I still think that if you look somebody in the eye and shake hands then that’s a done deal."

"When it turns out like in the Magnussen case, then I am shocked - and I tell myself ‘learn, don’t be naive’. So having to face this situation, I decided let’s go for it with Kevin ourselves. I think F1 needs these young super talents to come in, but the problem with the sport at the moment is that money is doing most of the talking with most of the teams and there is a danger that we create a vacuum of young talents."

"It is even difficult to get young talents into GP2. If we don’t find an F1 cockpit at another team for Stoffel [Vandoorne] we probably will put him in GP2. The danger with GP2 is that you have a lot of drivers there with financial backing who stay for four or five years - and that is the wrong signal. After two years kick them out. Talents fear it and avoid it, so we have to change that. The last time a rookie won the series was Lewis, so I hope it will pull that off again with Stoffel."

Whitmarsh added that the problem for outgoing driver Sergio Perez was the presence of Magnussen.

"What went wrong for him was that Kevin Magnussen existed," he said.

"All F1 drivers are good, but the extraordinary ones that have arrived in the last few years were Lewis [Hamilton] and Sebastian [Vettel] - extraordinary talents - and you are looking for the next extraordinary one."

"In the shape of Kevin and Stoffel we have two extraordinary young men, who may or may not achieve the pinnacle of Formula One, but our belief is that both have the potential to do that. I went up and down the grid and if you ask the knowledgeable people and ask them who is the most exciting talent not in Formula One at the moment, I think they would say Kevin Magnussen. Having said that, I have offered him to a number of teams and we couldn’t get a situation for him to be in F1, so we decided to move him to ourselves. If Kevin didn’t exist, probably Checo would still be driving for McLaren next season. But Kevin exists."

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