Formula 1

Eric Boullier defends Kevin Magnussen

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McLaren insist they are not being held back in the development of their car by the decision to bring in rookie Kevin Magnussen as their number two driver.

McLaren find themselves fifth in the constructors' championship after six races this season, level on points with Williams and behind the Force India team.

It is not the standard which McLaren are used to, but new Racing Director Eric Boullier is adamant that Kevin Magnussen is not a reason for the current situation.

"I don't think it is more challenging to have a rookie driver rather than two experienced drivers," said the 40-year-old during a phone-in.

"When you have somebody more experienced like Jenson you can get more details, and you get to dig through more problems to find solutions. [But] the kids now, especially kids like Kevin, can do most of the jobs and offer enough feedback to lead or to at least answer some of the questions from the engineering team.

"Kevin is facing the rookie syndrome: they are all coming from single-make series. Where they struggle most is to understand that cars [must be] developed to give certain results. If you don't have the best car you can't fight for the win."

Magnussen has been part of the McLaren driver development programme and beat fellow academy driver Stoffel Vandoorne to the 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 championship to earn his drive in Formula One with the eight-time constructors' champions.

"He is settling in well, he is very consistent, and his feedback is good enough to drive the engineering team around him to make the car faster. He is doing very well for a rookie," Boullier added.

Though it is the same route which the team took with Lewis Hamilton that turned out to be such a success, the difference is the car each driver had. Otherwise, it is quite rare for one of the more-established teams to select a rookie driver.  

But with the rise of Formula One teams and their junior systems, it could become a lot more common. The leader in the way is Red Bull, but they have the advantage of being able to settle their drivers with the use of a season (or two) with Toro Rosso.

Magnussen is certainly not a poor driver. The way in which he dominated the Renault 3.5 category last year in a field of deep quality made clear that he was ready for Formula One and he will certainly be a long-term figure in the sport and with McLaren.

They sacrificed the services of Sergio Perez and his Telmex backing after just one season to bring the 21-year-old Dane into the car which was a clear message of their intentions.

Either way, McLaren are going to need to up their game over the rest of the season to achieve a respectable finishing position. Heading into the next Grand Prix weekend in Canada, former world champion Jenson Button has is only in eighth place in the drivers' standings with 31 points whilst Magnussen is in ninth, a further ten points adrift. 

Between them, the pair have accumulated just two podium finishes, both coming in the opening weekend at Australia with Magnussen taking second and Button in third - though this was only due to the disqualification of Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo after fuel issues. 

For supporters of McLaren, unfortunately it does not seem at all likely that they will be able to add to their 182 race victories this season.

But there is great hope for next year where they will be supported by the return of the Honda engine and it could be the key to their rise back to the top.

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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