Kevin Magnussen admits his F1 career was probably finished had Renault F1 not come knocking this year for his services. Whilst impressive over one lap in qualifying when he beat McLaren team mate Jenson Button 9 times in 2014, Magnussen failed to meet Ron Dennis’ expectations who revealed recently, “He was given every opportunity – a season in Formula 1 followed by very clear goals that he had to achieve in 2014, and he didn’t achieve those goals,” said Dennis. “He knows himself and, no question, he knew that he didn’t perform as he should have done this season.”
Renault F1 have surprised many F1 observers who believed the French manufacturer would have resurrected the F1 career of French driver Jean-Éric Vergne. However, when PDVSA failed to meet their contractual payments schedule, Pastor Maldonado was sent packing and it was a surprised Kevin Magnussen who was given a second chance in Formula One.
When questioned about the wisdom of recruiting the young Danish driver, Cyril Abiteboul responded yesterday, “Magnussen was for us the logical choice.” Yet Magnussen himself identifies why some think the Renault driver line-up this year wasn’t so obvious a decision. “Both me and Jolyon have relatively low experience in Formula 1,” says Kevin. “He’s had a year of being a test and reserve driver and he’s tested quite a few times in an F1 car.”
Magnussen believes it was a “big achievement” for Palmer to win the GP2 championship because this demonstrates he’s a driver capable of winning titles. Yet recent history is not littered with GP2 champion drivers who are succeeding in Formula One. Since the FIA regulation change on F1 superlicense qualification criteria, it may be Palmer is benefiting from the fact that less drivers are now eligible to drive in Formula One. And if for no other reason, this may give Maldonado some confidence he could return to Formula One and his manager, Nicholas Todt, is said to be working on a plan to bring Pastor back for the 2017 season. However, with the oil money having run dry and a reputation for crashing lots and lots, this for Todt may be the epitome of ‘biting off more than you can chew’.
Pastor Maldonado competed in 96 Grand Prix, suffered 29 retirements, scored a memorable win in Barcelona – which many still cannot explain today – received 3 reprimands and surprisingly was fined just over 12,000 euros. The Venezuelan’s replacement has some sympathy for Maldonado, “Pastor has my respect,” said Magnussen at the Renault-presentation in Paris. “I was in the same situation as he is and I therefore know how hard that is. I’m sorry. But I’m sure he will succeed in whatever he does next. “
It may be as the 2016 season progresses, F1 fans will come to miss Pastor Maldonado, and no one can take away from Pastor – that he is in a very exclusive club of F1 GP winners.