Rookie Magnussen faces a steep learning curve at McLaren – Hamilton
LEWIS HAMILTON has warned McLaren new boy Kevin Magnussen to expect a “steep, steep learning curve” upon his arrival into Formula One next season.
The 21-year-old Dane has replaced Sergio Perez, who on Wednesday announced his departure from McLaren after just a year with the team.
McLaren have again taken a huge gamble by promoting their development driver in Magnussen to partner Jenson Button, who next season will be competing in his 15th campaign in F1.
Although highly- rated within the organisation, and the winner of this year’s World Series by Renault 3.5 championship, there is an obvious risk in giving Magnussen an opportunity.
McLaren rarely run rookies, with the last to be given the tag being Hamilton himself in 2007 when he was 22, albeit having been a part of the team for many years at that stage.
With regard to the next four months for Magnussen ahead of his debut in Australia in March, Hamilton said: “He’s not filling Jenson’s boots, or mine, so in that sense he has plenty of time to prepare, with plenty of time in the simulator.
“He seems like a very intel- ligent young lad. He’s always pleasant when I see him, and he’s obviously very quick. He’s done great in other categories.
“For me, I was hungrier than anyone else, and I was so determined to show I was better than perhaps people were thinking or expecting.
“I put energy into my training, I was prepared, and I’m sure Kevin will be doing exactly the same.
“They’ll give him the same opportunities to learn about the set-up, the car, the simulator. I’m sure he’ll be on it every day, so he’ll hit the ground running.”
Arguably, when it comes to joining a front-running team – irrespective of McLaren’s wretched campaign this term – the pressure and focus on Magnussen will be more intense than if he had signed for a lesser marque.
“I’m not one to say it’s easier or not because I’ve not been at the back,” added Hamilton, speaking in the paddock at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas ahead of this weekend’s US Grand Prix.
“It’s hard wherever you are, and I would assume it’s even harder when you are at the top because you are racing against the top drivers.
“Without testing or practice on the tyres, it’s a steep, steep learning curve.”
Magnussen is to draw on Button’s years of experience, proclaiming the 33- year- old Briton to be the ideal teammate.
“He’s extremely quick, obviously, but he’s also very experienced and superbly capable from a technical perspective,” said Magnussen.
“He’s a Formula One world champion, which is what one day I also hope to become, and I’m determined to learn as much as I can from him.”
According to Button, it will be up to the young Dane whether he sinks or swims.
“It’s one of those positions where it could light up your career or put an end to your career very early if things don’t go well,” Button said.
“It’s a massive risk to be put in the deep end, if you like, with a team that should be fighting for a title.
“But if a driver is willing to take that risk, he has a lot of confidence in himself and his ability.
“It could go one way or another and I hope it goes the positive way,” said the 2009 world champion, who made his debut as a 20- year- old with Williams in 2000. – Daily Mail and Reuters
MCLAREN’S LAST ROOKIE: Britain’s Lewis Hamilton
BIG STEP UP: Kevin Magnussen