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 Formula 1 grid, but a compatriot is suggesting that the highly rated Dane is being used as a negotiating pawn by Renault.
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.
However, 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.
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.”
“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.”