Magnussen to replace Maldonado at Renault (7th Update)

UPDATE #7

Magnussen's check was big enough
Magnussen has check, will drive

(GMM) Kevin Magnussen has now agreed a deal to race with the new Renault works team in 2016, according to sources.

"It's not yet official," declared the Danish newspaper BT, "but we reveal that Kevin Magnussen has already signed an agreement with the French car giant."

The report said it was told by "several well-informed sources".

It is expected the former McLaren driver's deal will be confirmed officially on Wednesday, when the international press gathers at the Technocentre Renault in Guyancourt, just outside of Paris.

If confirmed, 23-year-old Magnussen will replace Pastor Maldonado, who finds himself in the middle of a sponsorship dispute between Enstone based Renault – formerly Lotus – and his crisis-struck backer PDVSA.

PDVSA, the state-owned Venezuelan oil company, reportedly missed Renault's final deadline of last Friday to catch up on payments, as the oil price crisis threatens the country's entire economy.

"The only question now is whether Venezuela's government or economy will completely collapse first," the Washington Post declared in a report last Friday.

BT said the terms of Magnussen's deal, or whether his return to the grid is being powered by the CEO of the fashion chain Bestseller, fellow Dane Anders Holch Povlsen, are unclear.

But Marco Sorensen, another Dane and a recent Lotus test driver, told the Ekstra Bladet newspaper: "It's great for him (Magnussen) and for Danish motor sport. It's really big."

Another rumor ahead of Renault's Wednesday announcements is that the carmaker could use its new works foray to promote some of its other brands.

La Gazzetta dello Sport suggested that Infiniti, the luxury division of Renault's Japanese partner Nissan and the former Red Bull title sponsor, could now return to F1 in 2016.

And another rumor is that Renault could revive the iconic name Alpine for its F1 foray.

"Other brands may be involved," admitted F1 managing director Cyril Abiteboul recently, according to France's Canal Plus, "but I will not say more about it because it is part of the official announcement."

01/29/16 (GMM) Kevin Magnussen's father as well as his manager are refusing to comment on widespread reports that the former McLaren reserve is now poised to return to the F1 grid.

Specialist publications say the 23-year-old Dane, who was unceremoniously dumped by McLaren late last year, is likely to replace Pastor Maldonado at the new Renault works team.

It is known that tense talks between the French carmaker and Maldonado's controversial and scandal-struck Venezuelan sponsor PDVSA have been taking place in recent weeks, and that Magnussen has visited the team's Enstone base.

Sources say it is likely Magnussen's deal, as well as that of new team boss Frederic Vasseur, will be confirmed by Renault next Wednesday in Paris.

TV2, a Danish broadcaster, said Magnussen's manager Dorte Riis Madsen would not comment.

And the Danish tabloid BT also tried unsuccessfully to contact his father and former F1 driver Jan Magnussen.

But former Danish racing driver John Nielsen said the Renault switch would be very good news for Magnussen.

"I think without a doubt he is faster than Jolyon Palmer," he said.

"It is so important for him to get into formula one now, as in 2017 there may be three or four seats available. And he only has a window of two or three years to establish himself before the next generation is coming up," Nielsen added.

"Renault is not going to win anything in 2016," he said, "but they will certainly be a strong team for 2017, so it's a good place to go to."

However, another former Danish racing driver, Jason Watt, warned that negotiations between Renault and PDVSA may simply be playing out via the media.

"It could be that Kevin is being used as bait (by Renault) to get Maldonado to pay up," he told the Ekstra Bladet newspaper.

01/28/16

Kevin Magnussen is set to replace Pastor Maldonado at Renault's new Formula 1 works team for the 2016 season according to Autosport.

Their sources have confirmed Magnussen is poised to sign a deal over the next few days, before being officially confirmed at Renault's launch in Paris next Wednesday. It follows a lack of money Maldonado's from long-time sponsor PDVSA, Venezuela's state-owned oil and gas company, due to the plummeting of world oil prices.

It is believed a very small window of opportunity still exists for the two parties to return to the negotiating table, sign a new deal, and for Maldonado to retain his seat. But such a move is highly unlikely with the world glut of oil.

01/16/16 (GMM) A source at PDVSA, the Venezuelan state oil company, has played down speculation about Pastor Maldonado's immediate future.

Reports have suggested that amid a corruption scandal and the plunging price of oil, the company is late to make its due payments to the Enstone based Renault team.

Other rumors, however, say a share-price plunging Renault may be facing a Volkswagen-like emissions scandal of its own, and therefore wants to shy away from associating with another scandal-ridden company like PDVSA.

So amid reports Maldonado could be replaced by Kevin Magnussen, a PDVSA source said: "This is all speculation at the moment.

"We have not received any information other than what was agreed last year with Lotus," the source told the Venezuelan newspaper El Universal.

However, the source did not deny it has held meetings this week with Renault officials in Caracas.

"Such meetings are always held to plan joint activities, so it is nothing strange," the source insisted.

01/15/16

With oil markets in turmoil, it appears unlikely Maldonado can buy his ride at Lotus-Renault this year
With oil markets in turmoil, it appears unlikely Maldonado can buy his ride at Lotus-Renault this year

There has been speculation in recent days that Renault might be looking at dropping Pastor Maldonado, amide rumors that his sponsorship payments from Venezuela’s PDVSA have not appeared on time.

This would not be a surprise given the political troubles going on in Venezuela where President Nicolas Maduro and the opposition-controlled National Assembly are at loggerheads over who should control what, following the recent elections.

On Tuesday the Supreme Court, which the opposition says is biased towards Maduro, declared the National Assembly null and void after it ignored a ruling that three opposition leaders could not be sworn in because there is an investigation into alleged vote-buying.

Without the three the opposition does not the super-majority it needs to remove judges from the Supreme Court and even remove the President himself.

While this is going on, Venezuela remains in a state of serious economic crisis with the sinking price of oil undermining the country’s economy.

The country gets almost all of its export income from oil but it is now losing money on every barrel because it has high extraction costs. The country needs a barrel at $90 to break even and the price is currently at around $30.

In the circumstances it is hard to imagine how PDVSA could be keeping up with its payments to Renault. The word is that the team may call in Kevin Magnussen, although the Dane is also talking to Manor. Joining Renault might not be the best thing to do because the word is that the team will be using a 2015 car, converted to use a Renault engine. Manor on the other hand will have a new car and Mercedes engines. Joe Saward

01/13/16 (GMM) Renault has not denied speculation Pastor Maldonado could be ousted before the 2016 season opener.

Britain's Telegraph newspaper reported earlier that amid apparent problems with Maldonado's lucrative PDVSA backing, ousted McLaren reserve Kevin Magnussen has been shown around the Enstone factory.

PDVSA, the scandal-struck Venezuelan state oil company, is reportedly late with its payments to the team, the BBC said on Wednesday.

"It's speculation at the moment," a spokesman for the former Lotus team said.

"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 (Palmer)."

01/13/16

Can Kevin Magnussen buy his way into a Manor seat
Can Kevin Magnussen buy his way into a Manor or Lotus seat?

(GMM) Kevin Magnussen is reportedly in talks with Renault about replacing Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado in 2016.

Having taken over Lotus, there has been speculation the French carmaker might be re-thinking the Enstone team's contracts with Maldonado and Jolyon Palmer.

But it was British rookie Palmer who was believed to be most in danger, as Maldonado is backed by a reported $50 million a year in the form of controversial sponsorship by the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA.

PDVSA, however, is embroiled in a corruption scandal, and Britain's Telegraph newspaper confirms that the "political uncertainty in Venezuela" has put a question-mark over Maldonado's race seat.

At the same time, correspondent Daniel Johnson said it is the job-seeking former McLaren reserve Magnussen who is suddenly "in talks with the new-look Renault team".

Citing sources, the newspaper added: "Magnussen was in the team's Enstone factory (for) two days last week for talks with senior executives".

But the more likely role for 23-year-old Magnussen, who has recently tested Le Mans and DTM cars, is the Renault reserve role, the report continued.

Renault did not comment.

01/12/16 There is speculation in Denmark that Kevin Magnussen has been busy in recent days, having discussions with unnamed Formula 1 teams about possible employment in the future. It is not clear what the former McLaren driver is up to, but on paper there are only two drives available: the two seats at Manor.

There are a number of drivers looking to see what can be done there, but the signs are that the drives (at least one of them) will go to the highest bigger and the more money one driver brings, the easier it is for the team to take on a non-paying driver. Thus, for example, if Indonesia’s Rio Haryanto were able to bring the kind of money that is being talked about from his government, there might be a possibility of a Haryanto-Magnussen pairing.

On paper the Manor-Mercedes ought to be a very decent car. It has a Mercedes engine and the technical team under Technical Director John McQuilliam looks to be quite useful. In June, rather quietly, the team hired a new head of design in Luca Furbatto. He was chief designer at Scuderia Toro Rosso from 2012 to 2014, leading the design teams of the TR7, TR8 and TR9 cars. Prior to that he had a long history at McLaren between 2001 and 2011, where he started out as head of stress analysis and materials.

Prior to that he was at Toyota for a year, but started his career with a two year stint with Tyrrell/BAR. It is something of a Catch 22 situation for the team because it needs money, but it might earn more money if there is a better driver racing the car. There are a number of drivers who are being linked with Manor, including Will Stevens and Alex Rossi. Joe Saward

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