Kevin Magnussen’s father, Jan Magnussen, had kind of a shitty Formula One career. From 1995 to ‘98 the Dane racer ran 24 Grands Prix with McLaren and Stewart, scoring just one point. After bouncing around a little bit, he finally found his home with Corvette Racing. As a tentpole of the Corvette program for 15 years, the elder Magnussen won Le Mans four times, the Daytona 24 once, and scored 31 other race victories on his way to four championships. The parallels of Jan’s early career to Kevin’s ended-in-two-weeks Formula One tenure could not be more visible.
The younger Magnussen has had more time to show his capacity in F1, running with McLaren, Renault, and Haas for a combined 117 Grands Prix. He managed to stand on the podium in his debut race, a tumultuous 2014 Australian Grand Prix, but has far more frequently finished outside the points than in during his career. While K Mag is probably let down a bit by a middling Haas chassis, his points total thus far in 2020 is one. It’s hard to do much worse than that. His F1 career has been a bit disappointing, showing some promise in 2018 with an improved Haas, but then declined again for 2019 and got worse in 2020.
Kevin has been ditched by the Haas team for 2021 in favor of an all-new team pairing of Nikita Mazepin and Mick Schumacher. Instead of trying to find another spot on the grid, he’s following in his father’s footsteps and joining the General Motors family by stepping into a Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac DPi prototype in the IMSA series. Magnussen will pair with experienced Cadillac pilot Renger van der Zande when the season kicks off at the Daytona 24 in January.
If Kevin can find even a modicum of his father’s success in sports cars, it’s likely that he’ll be a legendary racer for decades to come. With the upcoming convergence of IMSA and WEC regulations when LMDh joins the grid over the next couple of years, it’s possible that Magnussen will have opportunities to race for overall victories at Le Mans, Daytona, and Sebring. The CGR team is clearly one of the best in international racing, and the current Cadillac DPi is quite good.
Obviously there is a lot of speculation here, it’s possible that the younger Magnussen’s talents won’t instantly port over from F1 to endurance, but time will tell. Are we all standing at the base of Kevin’s stratospheric growth into IMSA champion? I know I look forward to seeing him step into the Cadillac seat when Roar Before The 24 testing kicks off in seven weeks time.
Of course, Magnussen has two more GPs to finish out his tenure in the pinnacle of motorsport. He’ll effectively be stepping out of his F1 seat in Abu Dhabi on December 13th and immediately heading to Chip Ganassi’s shop to get fitted for his new car. Not much of a transition period between careers. I hope it works out for all parties involved.