Right time for Vandoorne to enter F1 – Magnussen

Stoffel Vandoorne is taking the race seat at McLaren at a good time, according to Kevin Magnussen - Credit: Octane Photographic Ltd

Kevin Magnussen believes Stoffel Vandoorne moving up to a Formula 1 race seat with McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team is well-timed for his career.

Magnussen started his own F1 career with McLaren in 2014 and secured a podium finish in his debut race in Australia, but at the end of the season found himself demoted to the role of reserve driver, paving the way for Fernando Alonso to re-join. For the 2016 season, he parted ways with McLaren as he joined Renault Sport Formula 1 Team.

Vandoorne will step up to a race seat this season, after Jenson Button announced he would be retiring.  McLaren has struggled in the past two seasons, finishing ninth in 2015 and sixth in 2016, but Magnussen believes Vandoorne will be entering the championship at a good time, especially with a lot of good things happening within the Woking-based outfit.

Asked if he had any advice for Vandoorne, Magnussen told Motorsport.com: “I don’t need to give him any advice. He knows how to do it himself. And he has some people there to support him.

“And I think he’s been very lucky to come into Formula 1 in a very good time – come into McLaren in a very good time. I think a lot of good things are happening there. And I think it is a very good place to be at now. [In Alonso,] he is up against one of the best in the sport. He will be able to show properly what he can do, because of that. So I think he has everything that you can ask for to make a future for yourself in Formula 1.”

Alonso has been in F1 since 2001, after five seasons with Scuderia Ferrari he rejoined McLaren in 2015, and Magnussen believes Vandoorne will need to pay attention to his new team-mate and look at what he is doing so to learn from him.

“Stoffel comes from GP2 – I know he did Super Formula in Japan – but [from GP2] he is used to winning,” added Magnussen.

“He is used to being, you know, a little bit selfish in the way he is working – everyone is, who is winning. You look after yourself. You focus on yourself. You don’t need anyone else. You don’t need to look at your teammate so much, because you easily beat him, and you have to focus on yourself.

“And now it’s [going to be] different. He will have someone that he will have to pay attention to. He will have to look at what he [Alonso] is doing and learn from what he is doing. Because he [Alonso] is better than you to begin with, because he has so much experience. And this experience is what you need to really pay attention to and learn from it as much as you can.”