Kevin Magnussen has had a rocky road during his Formula One career, mainly with major manufacturers within the sport. However, 2017 is a step change for the Dane embarking on a new challenge alongside Romain Grosjean at Haas.
His racing career started in his native Denmark, with him born into the Magnussen family, his father Jan Magnussen a former Formula One driver. Starting on a familiar path, initially with Formula Ford in 2008 which he won, before progressing to Formula Renault the following season. The impressive form continued from the Dane which lifted him up to German Formula 3 in 2010.
He finished third in that series as well, before a couple of races in the Formula 3 Euro Series, where he notched up one win and one podium. A year in British Formula 3 followed, then one of the premier categories of Formula 3, winning 7 of the 29 races enroute to his further 2nd placing. His one and only crack at Macau wasn’t so great, only finishing 19th.
He made the step up to the Formula Renault 3.5 series in 2012 with Carlin, who he had raced with the previous season. With one win in his debut season, and a seventh placed finish in the championship the Dane was picked up by McLaren and given his first test with the team that winter.
The following year was a much better showing, with five wins in the series driving for DAMS, with thirteen podiums on his way to winning that championship, the first since he won Formula Ford in 2008. It was enough to get him the Formula One drive at McLaren to replace Sergio Perez, who had yet to show his potential.
It was a difficult debut year for Magnussen though, coming at the end of the curve of form at the Woking team. The season started brightly though, getting a podium in Australia, the first race in the new turbo era – helped by the poor performance from Renault. He had further lower points paying position in Malaysia, Monaco, Canada, Austria, Silverstone, Germany, Italy, Singapore, Russia, America and Brazil, finishing the season in 11th.
With the arrival of Fernando Alonso at McLaren, it was a straight shoot out between Jenson Button and Magnussen, and was shuffled back as reserve driver to make way. That role came in handy after the testing accident in Barcelona for Fernando Alonso gave Magnussen a race start in Melbourne. You couldn’t really call it a start as the car was woefully slow, not even making the start.
He was released from McLaren that October, with no apparent allegiance to another team. Haas held him highly in regard for their debut season, before deciding on Romain Grosjean who had also found himself in a difficult place at Lotus. Manor had also been an option, before an opening at Renault following the sponsorship difficulties from Pastor Maldonado saw him dropped.
Joining Renault technically in the seat that Romain Grosjean departed, Magnussen struggled with a car that had a stilted upbringing following a lack of finance the previous season. Highlights included a seventh place finish in Russia early in the season, and tenth in Singapore.
Frustrated at Renault for not giving him a contract for 2017 on his terms sooner, he will be moving to Haas to drive alongside Romain Grosjean, a really good driving pairing who should be able to work together to iron out the issues of 2016.