JUNE 22, 1998
Verstappen replaces Magnussen
JAN MAGNUSSEN has been dropped by Stewart Grand Prix and will be replaced for the rest of the year by Jos Verstappen. The Dutchman takes over the drive after three days of testing for the Milton Keynes team at Magny-Cours. Magnussen, who was not at the test, has been rather a disappointment with the team although he has not always had the same machinery as Rubens Barrichello and has received little support from Stewart in the last 18 months. Magnussen enjoyed considerable success with Paul Stewart Racing in the junior formulae, winning the 1994 British Formula 3 title with 14 wins in 18 races. He was signed up as test driver with McLaren and drove a factory Mercedes-Benz in the International Touring Car Championship in 1995. At the end of that year he stood in for Mika Hakkinen at Aida and looked promising. After a second season as McLaren test driver he was signed by Stewart for the 1997 season but a series of structural failure dented his confidence and he has never looked very competitive since, although he scored his first point for the team at the recent Canadian GP.
Jan is now expected to try to get a drive in America where he made an impression in 1996, driving for races for the Penske team.
Verstappen has been in F1 since 1994 although he is still only 26 years old. He has competed in 48 Grands Prix with Benetton, Simtek, Arrows and Tyrrell and has twice finished third. He seems to have won the Stewart drive as a result of impressive feedback during the Magny-Cours testing and there is no question that he is a fast driver - although he has had trouble shaking off the reputation of being a crasher.