Speed, finesse and maturity

Kevin Magnussen was easily the best of McLaren’s Young Driver Programme and was tipped to enter Formula One by most people who saw him race in the junior formulae. His speed, finesse behind the wheel and a maturity beyond his years are qualities that set the Dane apart from other young drivers of the McLaren programme.

As a 15-year-old, Magnussen created quite a sensation in his hometown, Roskilde, winning 11 of the 15 races to claim the title in the Formula Ford Series. This proved to be a perfect doorway to other Formula Ford Series in Europe, the Formula Renault 2.0 Series and the F3 European Series, where the youngster showed he belonged to a superior breed of drivers.

In the 2012 Formula Renault Series, he encountered a series of mechanical problems and finished seventh. Nevertheless, Magnussen impressed with his driving skills and was picked for the F1 Young Driver Test in Abu Dhabi that year. This was a chance Magnussen wouldn’t just let go — he clocked a whopping mileage of over 500 kilometres and set the fastest time of the test, to boot.

Winning the Formula Renault 3.5 championship in 2013 fast-tracked his entry into Formula One. McLaren, which dumped Sergio Perez at the end of the 2013 season following his disappointing performance, had no hesitation in giving Magnussen the vacant seat.

Son of former F1 driver Jan Ellegaard Magnussen (he competed in 25 races for McLaren and Stewart, scoring just one point in all), the 21-year-old is expected to achieve what his father failed to in the highest class of single-seater racing.

His spectacular performance in the first pre-season testing at Jerez (Spain) — he clocked the fastest time of 1:23.276s in the week — is definitely an indication that Magnussen could prove to be a handful this season.

FACTFILE Name: Kevin Magnussen Date of birth: October 5, 1992 Place of birth: Roskilde, Denmark Team: McLaren Major performances: 2008: Formula Ford Denmark — champion 2009: Formula Renault 2.0 — second place 2010: German F3 — third place

2011: British F3 — second place; Masters of F3 — third place

2013: Formula Renault 3.5 Series — champion G. Raghunath