Former McLaren driver Heikki Kovalainen believes the team is taking a major risk that could backfire by giving young Dane Kevin Magnussen a seat for 2014.
In a move many are comparing to that of Lewis Hamilton for the 2007 season, the 21-year-old will move up from Formula Renault 3.5, where he was champion this year replacing Sergio Perez.
“I’m still surprised by the team’s decision,” the Mexican told Brazil’s Totalrace this week.
“I didn’t know the news was coming and, in fact, my contract was already signed. So I was surprised.
Asked for his thoughts on how he expects Magnussen to perform, Perez added: “Time will tell if it was the right decision.”
Meanwhile the more experienced Kovalainen also expressed his uncertainty as to whether McLaren, who celebrated their 50th anniversary this year, made the right call.
“There are two possibilities: Kevin will do well, or he will do badly,” said the 32-year-old, who struggled late in 2013 when he replaced Kimi Raikkonen in the competitive Lotus cockpit.
“It is difficult to say which one of the possibilities is the most likely,” added Kovalainen, referring again to Magnussen’s chances.
“McLaren seems to really believe in him, but I don’t really know him, other than knowing that he is fast and a good driver,” he continued.
Referring back to the comparisons being made between Magnussen’s move and that of Lewis Hamilton, Kovalainen also included Perez’s experience with the team this year which was no where near as successful.
“Hamilton was able to fight for the podium from the first race, but in the past season Sergio Perez has not met expectations,” he explained.
“They were expecting they could polish the diamond, but it didn’t turn out like that.
“In any case, McLaren is a very strong team with excellent facilities and vast resources, so at least in theory they can create the conditions to solve all of a driver’s problems.
“There is no guarantee that Magnussen will succeed, but at least he will have a great chance,” added Kovalainen.
As for the future of Perez that is looking increasingly likely to be at Force India replacing Paul di Resta and completing an all-new line up alongside Nico Hulkenberg.
As the Scot continues a court battle with former manager Anthony Hamilton in London, he was asked by the court about his future in F1.
“They (Force India) may be interested, they may not,” Di Resta told the court.
“I believe they are in talks with Sergio Perez. It’s looking likely that I will not be driving.
“The only team that really has any possibility is Sauber, (but) there has been nothing other than a chat with my manager.
“I am speaking to Mercedes-Benz for DTM,” he added.
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