In 1995, a promising young Dane made his Formula One debut with McLaren. That man was Jan Magnussen and in a delightful twist of fate, some 19 years later, the same team handed an F1 chance to his son, Kevin.
Born in the town of Roskilde in October 1992, Kevin began his racing career with success in karts before jumping into single-seaters in 2008. In his first season he won the Danish Formula Ford championship in dominant fashion, recording 11 victories, 12 podiums, six pole positions and 10 fastest laps.
The following year he stepped up to Formula Renault 2.0, finishing second as ‘rookie of the year’ in the Northern European Cup and seventh in the ultra-competitive Eurocup.
Keen to keep the momentum going, Magnussen graduated to German Formula Three in 2010, scoring an impressive victory on his series debut. A further two wins helped cement third in the standings and another rookie of the year crown, as well as an invitation to join McLaren’s prestigious young driver programme.
Magnussen remained in F3 in 2011, albeit moving to the British series where he finished a strong second in the title race after securing seven wins, six pole positions and eight fastest laps. The following season he stayed with the crack Carlin Motorsport team for an assault on the Formula Renault 3.5 series. Despite his rookie status, Magnussen won one race and scored three other podiums, establishing himself as a title favourite for 2013.
Having enjoyed a strong F1 run-out for McLaren at the Abu Dhabi young driver test at the end of 2012, the Dane burst out of the blocks in 2013, using his unerring blend of speed and composure to claim the Formula Renault 3.5 crown with five wins, 13 podiums and eight pole positions. McLaren were impressed, and having also been wowed his performance at Silverstone’s young driver test, they had no hesitation in handing Magnussen a 2014 race seat alongside Jenson Button.
He made an immediate impact in his debut season, scoring a podium on his first start in Australia. He would break into the points on a further 11 occasions during the season, even as McLaren struggled for form, but was ultimately bested by his world champion team mate Button. That led to months of uncertainty over which of the pair would partner Fernando Alonso for the 2015 campaign – and while Button eventually got the nod, Magnussen was signed as reserve driver, with McLaren saying he remained an ‘integral’ part of their future.
That future lasted until October 2015, when – with rising star Stoffel Vandoorne also on their books – McLaren decided there was no longer room for Magnussen in the team. A sportscar test with Porsche quickly followed, and a DTM test with Mercedes, but ultimately he was destined for an F1 return, landing a 2016 race seat with the newly-rebranded Renault team as a late replacement for Pastor Maldonado.
It proved to be a frustrating comeback as Renault looked to find their feet as a works squad again – using a car initially designed around a Mercedes power unit. Magnussen scored seven of their meagre eight points for the season – with a best finish of seventh in Russia – but when they hesitated on re-signing him he wasted little time in finding a 2017 drive with the up-and-coming Haas squad.
Source: Formula 1