Magnussen in “rumoured” talks with Renault seat for 2016

14 January 2016

It has been circulating in the paddock and on Social Media outlets such as Twitter today that ex-F1 driver Kevin Magnussen has been linked to a 2016 drive at Renault, with uncertainty hanging over Pastor Maldonado’s place at the team.

Magnussen has been without a team since being dropped as reserve driver by McLaren at the end of 2015, which followed his demotion from a race seat the year before. The Dane has tested in Porsche’s LMP1 car and for Mercedes in DTM since leaving McLaren but securing an F1 seat remains his main focus.

It has been heavily rumoured today that Magnussen was at Renault’s Enstone factory last week for talks with senior team executives. It may well be for the reserve role vacated by Jolyon Palmer’s elevation to a race seat for this year; though political uncertainty in Venezuela and the huge drop in the price of oil could have ramifications on Maldonado’s race seat.

Furthermore, BBC Sport have reported today that Maldonado’s sponsor, Venezuela’s national oil company PDVSA, is several weeks overdue on a reputed $50 million payment for the upcoming season. Maldonado was signed by Lotus before the Renault takeover was completed late last year.

A Renault spokesman is quoted today as stating the following on the current situation at hand:-
‘It’s speculation at the moment. We have a contract with Pastor. That is the current situation. Who knows what could happen by Australia but, at the moment, we are going forward with Pastor and Jolyon.’

Even though it remains very unclear what is happening behind the scenes at Renault since acquiring the team from Lotus last month, there are many things that still need to be in place. With more pressing issues such as building the infrastructure of the team up and getting them to communicate to the level they need to be, Renault trying to catch the gap up to their rivals Mercedes and Ferrari with their power units; the issue of who is driving for the team is a pressing one; but one that can be rectified behind closed doors.

At this present time Magnussen is also in discussions with Manor about a race seat. Manor is yet to confirm either driver for the upcoming season, which will see it become a Mercedes customer after using a year-old Ferrari engine in 2015.

Personally, I’d love to see Magnussen back in Formula One. During his rookie season with McLaren, he showed passion, determination, maturity and also the potential to be a talent of the future too. But the way McLaren (and yes before you ask I am a massive McLaren fan) treated him was unfair and wrong even though Magnussen very publically held his position and opinion on the matter very well indeed.

After giving the McLaren team two years of solid, hard work, I am sure will have helped the team move forward and also will have helped Magnussen as a driver and also personally too. And you have to admit that this could prove very handy indeed to any Formula One team who are interested in benefiting from this, especially the Manor and Renault teams who are looking for a solid foundation to which to build a sustainable yet competitive future in the sport too.

But if I flip the coin the other way; I can see why they would stay with Maldondo. He has more experience driving in the sport, has a race win under his belt and brings the much needed sponsorship with him.

However, that doesn’t bring success. Maldonado since 2013 has been beaten by his former team mates Valtteri Bottas and Romain Grosjean, gets involved in accidents on the track that he doesn’t need to and to me isn’t talented enough to be in the sport at all.

People may say that money gets you where you want to be and in the case of Maldonado, it hasn’t. If anything, this demonstrates to me that you can have the money and backing behind you, but if you cannot back it up on the track where it ultimately matters, then you should be chosen the door, give the chance to someone who has the talent to do the job and do something more productive with your time.

With Maldonado’s seat looking very shaky at the moment, we could see Renault making what I feel is a change that ultimately should reflect their renewed desire to invest heavily in the sport as a works team and with a more talented driver behind the wheel that will do the job more consistently than what they have retained for this season.

But overall, all you can say is that no matter what choice Renault make with their drivers, both drivers have the experience needed to help Renault build a solid foundation in 2016 that can be carried into future seasons but we will have to respect their choice even if it’s the wrong decision in my eyes to retain Maldonado for this season instead of choosing Magnussen who has a much promising future in the sport.

Sarah Jones- @jonesy_laaa