SEOUL, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Young Danish driver Kevin Magnussen and Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne both deserve to be in Formula One and will get there eventually, according to McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh.
Both are in the McLaren young driver programme and are competing in the Formula Renault 3.5 series, which Magnussen leads ahead of the Belgian with one round remaining.
“I think both are really good guys and they both will get into Formula One and we’ve got a duty of care to get them there,” Whitmarsh told reporters of the 21-year-olds.
“I think they are both pretty special.”
McLaren have had talks with Lotus, Force India and Marussia about giving an opportunity to Magnussen next season.
Lotus have a vacant seat to fill, with 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen leaving for Ferrari, although Germany’s Nico Hulkenberg is seen as a strong contender for that.
The other two teams both had technical partnerships with McLaren but Marussia have now aligned with Ferrari while Force India have strengthened ties with Mercedes.
“(Co-owner and principal) Vijay (Mallya) has always taken the best drivers that he could afford. And I don’t think he’ll change that philosophy,” said Force India’s deputy team principal Bob Fernley when asked about Magnussen’s chances.
”So when it comes to actually determining the drivers... we can put our recommendations in. And if Kevin is in that mix then so be it.
“I think we’ve got a situation coming up where there are going to be a number of very good drivers available,” added Fernley. “I think McLaren have to look at it themselves really. If Magnussen is a wonderful driver, why not take the chance?”
Magnussen, whose father Jan raced without success in F1 for McLaren and Stewart after standing out in the junior series, impressed in young driver tests with McLaren.
In last year’s test in Abu Dhabi, the Dane set a lap time that would have been good enough to secure sixth place on the grid for the Formula One race.
At Silverstone last July, he stepped into the McLaren at short notice after an agreement with Force India fell through.
“We hadn’t planned to run him but I felt you can’t let a lad down like that so we popped him in, he did 110 laps and was quickest and just didn’t put a foot wrong,” said Whitmarsh.
“One way or another we’ll find a way (to get them into Formula One),” said Whitmarsh, whose current racers are Britain’s Jenson Button and Mexican Sergio Perez.
”They both deserve it.
“They are both going to be Formula One drivers in the future. It’s a question of how quickly we get them there. They are young enough, they don’t have to get there next year.” (Editing by John O‘Brien)