McLaren and its reserve driver, Kevin Magnussen, will part ways at the end of the 2015 Formula 1 season.
The Danish driver will try and land one of the few possible remaining race seats ahead of the 2016 season, or be forced to explore his racing options elsewhere.
Magnussen has spent the past two seasons in the McLaren camp. He made his full-time racing debut with the team in 2014 and finished on the podium on his debut in Australia. That was, unfortunately, the high point of an often-trying campaign in the team’s final year running Mercedes engines, and he finished eleventh overall in the Drivers’ Championship standings in a largely commendable rookie year.
Unfortunately for Magnussen, the fact that he finished three places and a fairly hefty 71 points adrift of teammate Jenson Button – who also netted just the one podium all season – coupled with the news that Fernando Alonso would join the team in 2015 meant that there was no race seat room for Magnussen. He was demoted at the eleventh hour to the role of reserve driver in favour of keeping the veteran Button, whom the team felt would be better placed to support the development of the team’s reunification with Honda power.
A pre-season testing accident for Alonso allowed Magnussen to get his foot back in the door when the Spaniard was declared unfit to contest the season-opening race in Australia, but Magnussen’s Honda power unit expired before he could even get to the starting grid.
Magnussen has been a frustrated spectator ever since, and hasn’t had any further track time in the MP4-30.
“Racing is what I do. Racing is who I am. Racing is my life. So, to be honest, I struggled [being out of the car], particularly at first,” he told Motorsport.com in an interview published today.
Just last month, the team’s racing director Eric Boullier all but confirmed that Magnussen was on the way out, indicating that the team wouldn’t stand in his way if he wanted to explore options with other teams or in other championship series’.
Magnussen has today confirmed to Motorsport.com that he will be leaving the Woking squad at the end of the season, after being advised of his termination via email.
“I saw an email from Ron’s [Dennis] personal assistant 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.” – Kevin Magnussen confirms his split with McLaren
“I’d already made it clear that I was 100 percent determined to race next year, and obviously McLaren already have two contracted race drivers for next year in Jenson and Fernando. So, well, three into two won’t go, will it?” he continued.
“I was only ever going to have a chance of a McLaren race drive in 2016 if one of them was going to retire or whatever, so it was pretty clear that there was going to be no room for me.
Magnussen was one of a number of drivers linked with one of the two seats at the new Haas F1 Team, although the team is almost certainly expected to confirm that Esteban Gutiérrez will be given the nod alongside the already-signed Romain Grosjean.
Magnussen is now believed to be one of three drivers possibly shortlisted for Grosjean’s soon-to-be-vacated seat at the Lotus F1 Team – set to be bought out and renamed by Renault – as teammate to Pastor Maldonado; it is believed he is competing with the team’s reserve driver Jolyon Palmer and Ferrari reserve driver Jean-Éric Vergne for the job.
Failing that option, he might manage to shoehorn himself into a seat with the Manor F1 Team – which is considering Mercedes reserve Pascal Wehrlein and current drivers Will Stevens and Alexander Rossi for its two seats – although his disadvantage is that he does not come blessed with the support of major sponsors to be attractive to the cash-strapped team.
“I’ve had good talks with a number of Formula 1 teams, and some of them are still going on. So I have chances there. Formula 1 is still my aim. My ambitions haven’t changed. I know how to win races, I know how to win championships and I still intend to be Formula 1 world champion. That won’t change,” he continued.
“I was put on Earth to race, so I’ll race. I’m pleased to say that a number of exciting opportunities have come my way over the past few days and weeks, and I can tell you for sure that I’ll take one of those opportunities, definitely.”
Image via XPB Images
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