Like father, like son.
For Kevin Magnussen and his father, Jan, it couldn’t be more true: both entered Formula 1 after impressing hugely in the junior categories, and both drove for McLaren.
As the son of a grand prix driver, Kevin was more destined than most for a career in motorsport. After rising through the junior categories, he really earned his stripes in 2013, his second season in Formula Renault 3.5.
With the added weight of being championship favourite heaped on his shoulders, Kevin drove with great determination and consistency, taking the title after winning five races and finishing on the podium a further eight times. It was a feat made even more impressive due to the added pressure of facing down the persistent challenge from (fellow McLaren Young Driver) Stoffel Vandoorne, who was also gunning for a race seat with the F1 team.
Kevin’s 2013 season concluded with him being awarded the Formula 1 drive, racing alongside Jenson Button for ’14. If that added pressure, Kev quickly shrugged it aside with his trademark mixture of smiling charm and wilful insouciance.
Kevin enjoyed a dream debut at the Australian Grand Prix, running at the front for the whole weekend. His third-place finish on the road became second following the disqualification of Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull. Kevin’s was the best result for an F1 debutant since Jacques Villeneuve also finished second at the same track back in 1996.
If the rest of the ’14 didn’t quite live up to the lofty expectations established in that series opener, Kevin still drove with all the passion and bravery that would go on to typify his F1 career, and racked up an impressive 55 points in the championship in the process.
Through no fault of his own, Kev wasn’t retained for the following season, although he made a one-off appearance in Australia as a super-sub for the injured Fernando Alonso.
With drives at Renault and Haas under his belt since departing McLaren, Kevin has turned into a fine, combative and much-admired racer who has earned support and respect from many within the F1 community.