Kevin Magnussen remains optimistic about his chances of returning to drive in Formula One and for many, the Danish driver had an encouraging first season in the sport with McLaren in 2014. Despite this Kevin was forced to step down into a test role for 2015 following the return to Woking of Fernando Alonso. Magnussen has now been ditched altogether by McLaren possibly in part because of their other protégé driver, Stoffel Vandoorne.
Ron Dennis recently revealed Magnussen had been released by McLaren due to his failure to perform and attain ‘very clear goals’. This most likely refers to a catch all clause most novice F1 drivers are forced to accept in their contracts. The clause is simple and states unless the driver finishes ahead of their team mate at the end of the season, the ‘failure to perform’ clauses and subsequent actions MAY be triggered.
This may sound rather harsh, but F1 is one of the toughest sports to break into given the pyramid structure and the highly limited number of positions available at the top level. Young drivers embarking on their F1 careers have little choice but to sign what they are given.
Magnussen publicly stated he hoped to secure a 2016 drive with Manor F1, yet this is unlikely given he would require at least $15m to outbid the other hopefuls – and this is funding Magnussen just doesn’t have. Yet all this has not dimmed the hope that Kevin will make it back to F1 as he reveals to Ekstra Bladet: “We are looking at something that has not happened in a long time, which is several drivers probably retiring from Formula One, so it’s probably important to remain close to [the sport].”
The hope Magnussen is expressing is based on the fact that Jenson Button, Felipe Massa and Kimi Räikkönen are all entering the final year of their F1 contracts, and their subsequent retirement from the sport will make room for new talent at the end of 2016.
Whilst Kimi is almost certain to retire at the end of this year unless he beats team mate Sebastian Vettel, Jenson and Felipe have expressed the hope they will continue into and even beyond 2017.
The problem for Kevin Magnussen is that the list of novice drivers leaving and making a successful return to Formula One is almost non-existent. Romain Grosjean is the modern exception to this rule, having raced as a rookie for Renault in 2009, the French driver had to then wait until 2012 before getting another F1 race seat, again with the Enstone team.
Rookies come and go in Formula One and it requires something special or the luck of timing for them to achieve success and longevity in the sport. It’s just a fact of life that maybe Kevin Magnussen’s chance came a little too early and unlucky for him too was that the rookie class of 2015 performed well enough to have established themselves for the time being.