History: The Magnussen heritage in F1

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Formula One rookie Kevin Magnussen is desperate to fulfil what his dad Jan started more than a decade ago. Now we look back at a chapter from the career of Magnussen senior.

Jan put his name down in 1994 when he raced in British Formula-3. In that year he raced tantalizingly and didn’t leave any space to his fellow drivers: he claimed 14 wins of the 18 events. He even manage to top Ayrton Senna’s achievement with that.

Following this wondrous season he stepped up into Formula-1 and made his debut for McLaren. This however was only a one-off race. In the next year he then joined the newly-born Stewart Racing. In 1997 he completed every single event. Since he was unable to unlock all his potential his race seat was under serious threat at the end of the year. Jackie Stewart supported him and gave him another chance, but he wanted the Dane to raise his game. Jan couldn’t make the breakthrough and wasn’t able to up his pace and he was then replaced by Jos Verstappen.

Reasons behind his troubled endeavour

Jackie Stewart called Jan an enigma for they couldn’t figure out how to get the best out of him. At Stewart he raced alongside Rubens Barrichello who set a fairly high benchmark. For the majority of their partnership the Brazilian youngster had the upper hand.

Jan demonstrated huge commitment and immense hunger which secured him the drive at Stewart. He had a tough start to the season and was off the pace. He then raised his game in Austria, from that weekend on his pace matched the one of Barrichello. He was retained for the next season, but 1998 set off in a similar fashion to the previous one. In the first six races he was hardly a match for his team-mate. On the seventh weekend he finished in the points, but it came just too late. Jan thought the lack of pace was down to the lack of track running. Even Stewart Racing’s Alan Jenkins admitted that the team hadn’t been geared up to give Jan the test mileage that he had needed.

Jan wasn’t delighted how things worked at the team. They were said not to have the right organization and lack of sources for development. He also felt team-mate Barrichello had received more attention. Magnussen was eventually replaced halfway through the 1998 season, following the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal where he scored his only Formula One championship point.

The future

Continuing the name of Magnussen in the sport is obviously now Kevin, the eldest son of Jan. The young Dane appears to be quite a bit more comfortable at McLaren than Jan had ever been at Stewart, resulting in 37 championship points so far, including one podium at his first ever F1 race, at Melbourne, Australia.