Whitmarsh: Perez was dropped for Magnussen because a rival team boss reneged on a deal

Martin Whitmarsh with Kevin Magnussen

Martin Whitmarsh with Kevin Magnussen

Sergio Perez would still be at McLaren next season if one unnamed Formula 1 principal had not reneged on a deal to give Kevin Magnussen a drive for 2014, according to team boss Martin Whitmarsh.

McLaren announced this month that 21-year-old Danish rookie Magnussen, son of their former racer Jan, would be replacing the young Mexican next year alongside Britain’s 2009 World Champion Jenson Button.

However Whitmarsh told the official formula1.com website that the first choice had been to keep Perez and find Magnussen a place elsewhere on the grid where he could learn the ropes for a year or two.

“I hoped and tried to find [Magnussen] a cockpit,” he said ahead of the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix. “I even did a deal and shook hands with a team principal up and down this paddock – an absolute deal – but he stepped back.

“Even after 25 years [in the sport] I find that difficult to deal with – I know I shouldn’t [be], but I am still hopelessly naive. I still think that if you look somebody in the eye and shake hands then that’s a done deal,” added the Briton. “When it turns out like in the Magnussen case, then I’m shocked – and I tell myself ‘learn, don’t be naive’.”

Martin Whitmarsh had some harsh decisions to make regarding Sergio Perez and Kevin Magnussen

Martin Whitmarsh had some harsh decisions to make regarding Sergio Perez and Kevin Magnussen

Whitmarsh declined to name the principal, although he said he wanted to.

McLaren, who are fifth overall and enduring their worst season since 1980, were known to have been talking to rivals Force India, Lotus and tail-enders Marussia about taking on the Dane.

Whitmarsh said the end result was that McLaren decided the 23-year-old Perez would have to go, even though the Mexican had done a ‘decent job’ and deserved to stay in Formula 1.

The team felt thatMagnussen, who had impressed in the simulator and testing as well as winning the Formula Renault 3.5 series title, was an extraordinary talent they simply could not overlook.

Whitmarsh said that he had told Perez that there was no threat to his job from drivers already in F1, such as Brazilian Felipe Massa or Germany’s Nico Hulkenberg, but only from youngsters within the McLaren set-up.

Martin Whitmarsh with  Adrian Fernandez and Sergio Perez

Martin Whitmarsh with Adrian Fernandez and Sergio Perez

“If Kevin didn’t exist, probably Checo (Perez) would still be driving for McLaren next season,” said Whitmarsh. “But Kevin exists. My first choice for Kevin was to put him in another team and do a year or two and then bring him back. That was my first choice – and if that was not possible apart from some very small teams, he joined us.”

Whitmarsh said Formula 1 risked a “vacuum of young talents” if men such as Magnussen were not brought in, just as Lewis Hamilton was in 2007, because “the problem with the sport at the moment is that money is doing most of the talking with most of the teams”.

Sauber, Force India, Lotus, Caterham and Marussia have all yet to confirm their 2014 lineups but the majority will require drivers to bring funding with them. (Reuters)

Subbed by AJN.

Subbed by AJN.

  • Spartacus

    Martin is right about GP2. It’s the feeder series for F1 and if you can’t shine in a couple of seasons then really you need to move over. Although one problem is that a few F1 drivers haven’t shone either and should be moving over to let others in.

  • Kimi4WDC

    Nice, next year plenty of people to cheer for!!!

    Kimi, Kvyat, Magnussen and Hulk!

  • Boycottthebull

    I wonder who the mysterious team principle that when back on the deal is?

  • steve

    @Boycottthebull – I reckon it’s probably Fearnley, Force India are one of the few teams that haven’t made final decisions on their driver line up and they don’t seem to be as desperate for money as some other teams, for example I doubt a team like Lotus would even consider Kevin where as Force India probably would.

  • bobw

    I’m sure Perez is just as shocked at Whitmarsh’s lack of integrity. Stones and glass houses Mr. Whitmarsh -stones and glass houses!

  • Eevel

    Why does Whitmarsh think that he keeps needing to find excuses for firing an average driver like Sergio?

  • Daniel Ordaz C

    Watch out Jenson, you’re next

  • Daniel Ordaz C

    Eevel, Perez has done far more than expected for the worst McLaren ever being only his third season in F1 and with no Simulator time.
    Look at the last six races and tell me who is the better driver at McLaren?

  • ZAK.

    To be honest After watching F1 since the days of Hunt, Fitipaldi, and Mansell, Bla, Bla, the last two years of F1 have only been exiting by last years antics by grosjeans running into or over fellow F1 drivers the intruduction of S____ tyres which have aided Red Bull have killed the enjoyment of such things and instead have looked at the results of MotoGp instead much more enjoyable.

  • f1fan

    Button is the better driver. You asked……. Perez had his chance and didn’t really shine all that bright. Clearly not a team player and downright dangerous at times!

    bobw – this is not a stone in a glass house situation in the slightest. Whitmarsh told Perez that Perez’s seat was not under threat from any current F1 drivers. And he’s stood by his word so his integrity is clearly above question on this.

  • LotusFan

    Is Martin Whitmarsh running a top team or a charity? Somebody went back on a deal , so he feels compelled to hire Kevin. He fires a driver , then finds the need to find him a drive.
    Just rebuild your team and build a fast car Martin pls

  • Tom Zeus

    1st, I’m a huge McLaren fan…but what Whitmash did to Perez was below even the guy that runs Quantum investment fund who supposedly is going to save Lotus.(haha). Seriously, what happened to integrity, that’s total BS to say he bumped Perez because he was being the white knight after some other F1 boss reneged on an agreement with Magnussen….that’s laughable! He must think all the F1 fans are so gullible that they believe that when he’s just trying to save face for his poor actions! I wasn’t all that impressed with Perez this year eventhough he seemed to be as fast or faster than Jensen, and thought there were other better drivers for McLaren and was sad to see they were probably keeping Perez…but to drop him without any notice was bad character at the end of the season.

  • Ukwhite

    Whitmarsh is a below par manager, Perez’s lack of performance is not all Cecco’s fault. In fact Whitmarsh is a bit of a coward.

  • Badman Jose

    Whitmarsh the Joker..Now I see why Lewis decided to move to Mercedes


  • Boycottthebull

    @Steve – Thanks Steve that probably makes sense, with reports that Force India have signed Hulkenberg for a year that fits in with the timing to knock back the offer to take on Magnussen.

  • Robin ducker

    Obviously it was John Booth. I think Booth might have done Whitmarsh a failure, but then it might have been good if he had kept Perez and dumped Button. right, I can here the outrage but consider the evidence. Perez kept up with a world champ, in a crap car that was unfamiliar. He was paid less than 1/5th of Button. He has a future beyond 2014. He brings in some sponsorship.
    Pls; Button, Whitmarsh and Michaels. Consider going somewhere else because there the recent decision making in the last few years has been unforgivable.

  • Garth

    Absolutely correct Robin Ducker and now that the season is over the young underdog perez finishes 2 points behind a very fortunate ex WDC. Think shame of yourself Twitmarsh and you too Sam the Bam. I personally hope this decision comes back to bite you on the bum and end both your careers at Maclaren, and Button is finished at the end of 2014 unless the afore mentioned clowns can grow a pair and reverse the decision replacing Button with Perez.

  • nilo_21


  • nilo_21