This post was written by Nathan Hine
In 2014 Formula One faces not only the biggest rule change to deal with since the 1980’s, but also the trials and tribulations of raging rookies taking on the status quo.
F1 has the most youthful and inexperienced grid of the modern era: the young Dane Kevin Magnussen will compete in his first grand prix at Melbourne for McLaren-Mercedes, while GP2 and GP3 stars Daniil Kyvat and Marcus Ericsson join F1 teams Toro Rosso and Caterham-Renault ahead of their 2014 racing campaigns respectively.
Will the youth and inexperience help or hinder the F1 field as Melbourne approaches?
Magnussen, the Formula Renault 3.5 series reigning champion, makes his F1 debut with a team that celebrated their 50th birthday last season. They have enjoyed success from the very best drivers’ of them all such as Ayton Senna and Alain Prost to accumulate 12 Drivers’ and 8 Constructors’ Championships, but McLaren experienced their worst ever season in 2013.
Can Kevin really take the pressure and recapture F1 glory in 2014? Well, Martin Whitmarsh Former McLaren team principal certainly thinks so as he added: “Every time he’s tested our Formula 1 car, he’s been very quick and very methodical, and his feedback has been first-class.”
Another man who lies amongst the very best competitors is Daniil Kyvat: the Russian racer who will make his debut for Toro Rosso in the STR9 at Melbourne in March.
The 19 year old established his right for F1 competition on the world stage last November at Abu Dhabi when driving for Arden Racing. He claimed the FIA GP3 World drivers’ Championship by winning the Saturday race. This young rookie has huge speed, talent, charisma and is for sure a story to watch- seeing how young Kyvat fares against his French team-mate Jean-Eric Vergne in 2014.
The arrival of these newcomers coincides with the many rule changes at the pinnacle of motorsport for the upcoming season, there are new powertrain drive systems; ERS, turbo chargers; Automated Energy Recovery System and new aerodynamic configurations. The challenge begins for these new, developing and exciting stars in the making ahead of a brand new era for F1.
Young rookie racers don’t always hit the ground running and before they know it they’re fired. Take Kevin’s Father Jan Magnussen who drove for McLaren-Mercedes as a stand-in driver at the 1995 Pacific grand prix.
Before this race Magnussen dominated the field in the British F3 class with 13 race wins in a season (a record that still stands today) but was overshadowed by the F1 field in his 2 full seasons with the Stewart GP team in 1997 and 1998 as well as the 1995 Pacific grand prix where he finished 10th. In his 2 years at motorsport’s highest level in a car worthy of winning grand prix he managed to accumulate 2 points.
Consequently, the young stars of 2014 with the world’s media watching them – Magnussen Junior, Marcus Ericsson and Daniil Kyvat – may find that trying to mix it with motorsport’s finest athlete’s in the world’s most prestigious machinery is a step too far.
It is one thing making a step in the right direction proving yourself in the junior categories (Formula Renault 3.5, GP2 and GP3.) However, it is another prospect altogether making your mark at the world’s centre stage. Do these young men have what it takes to score big and establish themselves as F1 champions in the making?
This prospect is one which will be debated between now and Melbourne when a true picture will begin to emerge. But, with Kevin Magnussen posting the fastest lap of the test at Jerez in his brand new MP4-29 has not done his future any harm.
The F1 journey has been a bit subdued for the other two; Daniil Kyvat and Marcus Ericcsson both had limited running due to due to problems affecting all Renault-powered teams at Jerez.
One thing is for sure: these three feisty youngsters are taking on 19 of the best tracks in the world with completely different rules and regulations for 2014. The question still remains how good are these 3 rookies ahead of the upcoming season?
“I’ve arrived in the team I always dreamed of” says Kevin Magnussen. Will the boyhood dream fly the flag of success or end with nothing more than trackside sorrow?