LONDON (Reuters) - Danish Formula One driver Kevin Magnussen is leaving McLaren after being informed by email on his birthday that the team had no place for him.
Team boss Ron Dennis confirmed the split in a statement on Friday, saying the youngster deserved to be in Formula One and McLaren would do what they could “to help him successfully embark on the next chapter of his racing career.”
Magnussen, who turned 23 on Oct. 5, told the motorsport.com website he had received an email from Dennis’s personal assistant giving him the bad news.
“It was a short paragraph explaining that there would be nothing for me in the future. It arrived on my birthday, actually,” he said, describing that as “a detail”.
The son of former F1 racer Jan, he came second on his debut in Australia in 2014 -- the best rookie start since Canada’s future champion Jacques Villeneuve in 1996 -- but lost his place to double world champion Fernando Alonso this season as team mate to Britain’s Jenson Button.
He dropped down to the reserve role but, wanting to race, had looked sure to leave from the moment McLaren confirmed on Oct. 1 that Button, the 2009 champion, was staying.
“He is extremely keen to return to racing next year, and, in keeping with our tradition with our young drivers, we will not stand in the way of his ability to fulfil his ambition and potential,” said Dennis.
“Evidently, we have no space for him at McLaren-Honda as a race driver next year, but there is no shame in being edged out by two world champions.”
Magnussen joined McLaren’s young driver programme in 2010 and leaves after 19 race starts and 55 points scored.
He stood in for Alonso at this year’s Australian Grand Prix when the Spaniard was unable to race due to concussion. However the Dane failed to start when his car’s Honda engine blew as he was heading to the grid -- the first of many such failures for McLaren in their worst ever season.
Magnussen’s best hope of staying in Formula One may be with struggling Lotus, who are hoping to be taken over by Renault and have a vacancy after Frenchman Romain Grosjean signed for newcomers Haas F1.
“I’ve had good talks with a number of Formula One teams and some of them are still going on,” said Magnussen. “Formula One is still my aim.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis