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 rumour 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 rumour 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." (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing