Birthplace: Roskilde, Denmark
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Kevin Magnussen joined McLaren’s young driver programme in 2009 and within four years the team had decided to promote him to their F1 race squad.
His father Jan Magnussen had begun an association with the same team 15 years earlier, leading to a single start for McLaren in the 1995 Pacific Grand Prix.
The younger Magnussen emulated his father’s climb through the lower ranks, though without quite the same conspicuous promise as his father’s famously dominant British Formula Three campaign. He won Denmark’s Formula Ford championship in 2008 having stepped up from karts, and two years later was winning F3 races in his rookie campaign in the German and European series.
He emulated his father’s move into the British championship in 2011. But while the elder Magnussen won 14 out of 18 races in 1994, Kevin had to settle for second in the championship behind team mate Felipe Nasr. Nonetheless he underlined his credentials by matching Nasr’s tally of seven wins.
That prompted a move up to Formula Renault 3.5 where newer and more powerful cars were being used for the first time. Magnussen acquitted himself well but endured a luckless season, losing an almost certain win in Hungary when his car failed a lap from home.
The following year he delivered on his potential and came out on top of a competitive field which included fellow McLaren development driver Stoffel Vandoorne and highly rated Red Bull junior racer Antonio Felix da Costa.
Magnussen clinched the title with five wins and missed out on a sixth victory due to a technical infringement. But his consistency was just as impressive – without that disqualification he’d have been on the podium 14 times in 17 races.
McLaren’s support led to him driving for the team at the 2012 and 2013 young drivers’ tests. They were sufficiently impressed with his potential that they took the surprising decision to drop Sergio Perez after a single season and promote Magnussen to their race team for 2014.
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Image © McLaren/Hoch Zwei