Dennis: Magnussen sacked due to poor performance

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The arrival of young new F1 drivers usually sends the fans websites into a frenzy of debate. Their pre-F1 history is poured over and comparisons with others who have trodden the same path to success are frequently made.

The arrival of the affectionately nicknamed K-Mag at McLaren was no different and being the son of Le Mans winner and former F1 driver, Jan Magnussen, merely added to Kevin’s allure. During the 2012 season, Magnussen won the Renault 3.5 series by a whopping 60 points from the other McLaren protégé Stoffel Vandoorne.

His début in big boy racing couldn’t have started any better. He crossed the line in the 2014 season opener in Melbourne in P3 and ahead of McLaren team mate Jenson Button. K-Mag was later upgraded to P2 following the disqualification of RBR’s Daniel Ricciardo.

But that was as good as it got for the likeable Dane. Magnussen’s next best result was fifth place in Russia, but he was outclassed by Button and finished the season with just 55 points to Jenson’s 126. Following the appointment of Fernando Alonso by McLaren for the 2015 season, when the toss-up was made between retaining Button or Magnussen, it was the Dane who lost out.

Magnussen returned to test/reserve driver status but following Alonso’s crash in winter testing, Kevin deputised for the Spaniard at the Australian GP. After qualifying last, unfortunately Magnussen then failed to make it to the starting grid on Sunday following a Honda engine failure on the formation lap.

Then in October came the sad news for K-Mag, that Kevin was being released by McLaren. Kevin revealed how this was confirmed to him. “When the date of McLaren’s option on me passed, I was kind of waiting to hear from them. I didn’t hear anything for a few days, and then, after about a week, when I saw an email from Ron’s [Dennis] personal assistant Justine [Bowen] in my inbox, I had an idea of what it might be. It was a short paragraph explaining that there would be nothing for me in the future. It arrived on my birthday, actually.”

Ron Dennis is not known for being particularly ‘touchy feely’, bet hey… “Happy Birthday Kevin, you’re fired… Love Ron”?

Now the McLaren boss reveals Magnussen was released because he failed to perform.

“He was given every opportunity, a season in Formula One followed by very clear goals that he had to achieve in 2014 and he didn’t achieve those goals,” said Dennis. “He knows himself and, no question, he knew that he didn’t perform as he should have done this season.”

Magnussen is hoping for a seat at the renamed Marussia-Manor F1 team in 2016 and recently tested for Porsche in an LMP1 car. However, since then VW have announced cuts to their LMP1 programme and Audi and Porsche will field just two cars in 2016. It appears Kevin’s best hope is now in DTM.

The McLaren boss is philosophical about Magnussen’s F1 hopes. “He is a good, talented driver, more than capable of driving in Formula One. But there are several drivers capable of driving in Formula One, who for one reason or another don’t get that opportunity. Both he and all drivers that come to McLaren and leave McLaren always get continuous support if they want to receive it. We don’t walk away from our drivers and we’re always supportive of our drivers”.

Then almost as though the birthday email is on his mind, Dennis explains he feels McLaren have done more than their bit. “Basically we do a great deal to bring young drivers on. We care. We take these young people and we pay for their careers: we paid for Kevin’s career, we paid for Lewis [Hamilton]’s career; people forget we paid for [Nico] Rosberg’s career in the early days.”

Yes, we hear you Ron… but really? Sacking someone by email on their birthday? What next – a horse head for Christmas in bed between Christian and Ginger?

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17 responses to “Dennis: Magnussen sacked due to poor performance

  1. Did you mean to have said, “his best hope is in DTM” as pertaining to it not?

    I ask because he recently tested for one of the Mercedes DTM teams, so that could be his most viable option.

    • Proof reading is one of the short-comings of this site and transposing ‘Not’ for ‘Now’ seems to be one of the most common errors…

      A shame if the DTM really is his best option, to write him off after one season where he didn’t do terribly doesn’t seem just. They might as well have just given him his notice in January rather than waiting until the end of the season – he might have got a decent drive for this year rather than hanging on.

      • Stoffel should be very concerned given what has happened to the 2 previous drivers they got rid off, Perz and now Kmag.

        If and when Stoffel gets the seat, the pressure is going to be ridiculously higher than it ever was before.

        • I guess this brings up the whole question as to whether drivers mature in to F1 or if a good driver will show it from the outset.

          Thinking back, Lewis, Seb, Fred, even going back as far as Senna, all showed well in their first season.

          I can’t think of anyone off-hand who is classed as a really ‘top’ driver who had a modest first season. Plenty of race winning drivers did, but if McLaren are really only interested in champions then maybe, ruthless as it was, the decision was correct?

          Of course you get the opposite – drivers who do well in their first season but who don’t go on to much. Hulkenberg seems a good example, he had some stellar drives in his first season with Williams and while he’s had similar drives right through his career he’s never made that step up.

          • fair point, its sink or swim when given the opportunity. I’d just throw in the lack of testing available nowadays as some sort of defence for KMag/young drivers – he did show some promise last year. Still they only have 2 seats to fill at the end of the day – it just seemed a disingenuous remark to me to blame it on his lack of performance – it seemed at the time if the money could be found he might be there now instead of Jenson.

          • It seems disingenuous to blame it on lack of performance when he wasn’t given the opportunity to perform in 2015. If his 2014 performance wasn’t good enough then why keep him holding on?

            Lack of testing, maybe. Doesn’t seem to have hindered Max but then we are yet to see if he becomes a great or just someone who did well in their first season then faded in to obscurity.

            One thought – there was talk at one point of McLaren buying Marussia and using them as a second team to test the Honda engine. Maybe they held on to Kevin in case that happened. And of course we know Fernando can be a bit firey, maybe they had one mind on keeping him in case things disintegrated quickly?

        • I think the problem is partly Button. I think he is one of the most underrated drivers on the grid, if I was a young F1 driver and found i was going to be paired with a world champion, I’d be relieved to find out it was only Button and fancy my chances and half expect to beat him. Trouble is Button is a world champion, a deserving, bloody quick one and other than his first 2 seasons, has at least beaten or been a match for any team mate he’s had. And i think Ron initially underestimated Button and expected the rookies to match or beat him, and so they suffered. Button is remarkably good at hoovering up points and just hardly ever drops the car, it makes him hard to beat over a season, even if you can blow him to the weeds some days, it’s just not enough.

          • I’d certainly agree with him being under-rated, but maybe this just goes to show that Kevin wasn’t top class material? After all, Jenson kept Lewis honest – it may be that he scored more regularly but not as big as Lewis, I don’t know, but over their time together the total points was very close.

            If Kevin couldn’t get near Jenson then you’ve got to conclude he isn’t another Lewis – and do McLaren want someone who isn’t another Lewis?

            If he had the backing I’m sure Kevin could find a seat elsewhere and have a half-decent career but in a top team you need to show well from the outset – or at least that seems to be how they think.

  2. “he knew that he didn’t perform as he should have done this season.”

    didn;t perform – first up that would just about sum up the entire outfit but anyway –
    perform at what?

    hmmm…so basically he failed to convince Saxo or Lego to come on board?

    • I always wonder why the journalist in question doesn’t follow up.
      – what were his targets?
      – how did you measure them?
      – when did he first fail to meet his targets?
      – what did you do to help him?
      – why didn’t that work?
      – which actions / examples can you provide show your support?
      – etc.

      • It would make sense wouldn’t it 😀
        Ron seemed to prefer K-Mag over Button last year and seemed to be touting Kevin as a future champion….so what changed? Maybe Ron just needs to cover that he’s not really in control.

  3. you win some and you lose some. these days with cars that are easy to drive, relatively speaking, drivers need more than a pilots license.

  4. I heard Ron got freaked out when the MTC received a veritable torrent of messages for K-Mag about Vanilla Ice wanting his hair back.

  5. So Magnussen was long a very strong contender for Button’s seat this season even backed by Ron, a lot of engineers etc, but just not by the sponsors. He was then retained as a test driver for last year, in spite of McLaren having Vandoorne in the stalls as a young talented driver.

    It does not make sense at all. If this has anything to do with K-Mags performance, in 2014, surely he wouldn’t have been a strong contender for Button 2015 seat and surely they wouldn’t have retained him as a test driver for 2015, when they also had the choice of Vandoorne. If this has something to do with K-Mags performance surely he would have been sacked after 2014 and not 1 year later!!!

  6. Ron Dennis is a back-stabbing b***-s****er. Magnussen performed pretty well in his rookie season and couldn’t out-snake Button (even Alonso is having trouble with this, so expecting a rookie to achieve that is pushing it). If Magnussen did indeed fail to perform, then it’s safe to say that McLaren absolutely shot everybody’s expectations to pieces with the nonsense cars they produced over the last 2 years.

    Although Magnussen is not a championship-winning driver, holding on to him under the pretense that he will be given another chance as a testing driver and then just plain firing him for incompetence is nauseating. I hope Ron gets kicked out the same way, that would be sweet irony. Vandoorne is going to have to be ready for a lot of s***, perhaps it’s not such a bad thing that Button and Alonso are the ones doing the driving after all.

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