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McLaren principal thinks “risk” with Magnussen will lead to big rewards

Dec 16, 2013, 3:17 PM EDT

F1 Young Driver Tests - Abu Dhabi Getty Images

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh recognizes the uncertainty that comes with his team bringing up newcomer Kevin Magnussen (pictured) to the ranks of Formula One. But he believes that he’s seen enough from the Formula Renault 3.5 champion to know he’ll be able to handle it all.

In an interview with Britain’s The Independent, Whitmarsh details several moments where Magnussen impressed him along his path to F1 from his FR3.5 title to his strong Young Driver’s Test at Silverstone this past July where he led the first day of the session.

“What was impressive was the consistency – there was not a single mistake,” Whitmarsh said of the Silverstone session to Independent writer Ian Parkes. “I also happened to participate in the engineering debrief at the end of the day and he had a number of engineers around him and at least 20 on video conference.

“I sat there listening to his feedback, how clear and precise he was, the confidence, and realizing ‘This guy is special’.”

Magnussen will have to be special in order to have his rookie season stack up admirably against that of the last McLaren rookie in Formula One – Lewis Hamilton, who narrowly lost out on the 2007 World Championship in his first year of F1.

To the young man’s credit, however, he appears to be fully immersing himself in his preparations to team up and face off against former World Champ Jenson Button – who has warned his new teammate about the “big pressure” that comes with entering F1 as part of one of its most important teams.

Considering that McLaren just suffered through its first season without a podium finish in over three decades, there will indeed be high expectations for the son of former F1 and current sports car racer Jan Magnussen to adapt quickly and help get the Woking team back on track.

That said, Whitmarsh has faith.

“…There’s a risk, but we wouldn’t be doing it unless we didn’t think it would work out,” he said.

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