Rookie Mag­nussen faces a steep learn­ing curve at McLaren – Hamil­ton

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

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

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