Renault team boss Frederic Vasseur has slammed suggestions he is not fully behind 2016 recruit Kevin Magnussen. Particularly in the Danish media, much has been made of Vasseur's recent suggestion that his first choice to replace Pastor Maldonado this year was actually ART protege Stoffel Vandoorne. "Complete bullsh*t," the Frenchman told Denmark's BT newspaper.
"I don't understand why it's such a big story in Denmark," said Vasseur. "A Belgian journalist asked me if I was interested in Vandoorne, and I replied 'Of course yes, but he has a contract with McLaren'. It's my job to be interested in all good drivers, but that does not mean that I can hire them all. I am very happy with the two drivers I have," he insisted.
"Kevin and Jolyon Palmer is a great combination. I've known Kevin for many years. He did not race for me in the junior classes, but he was a tough competitor and always at the top. He had a bad experience in 2015 that made him extra motivated for this season, so for me, Kevin was the perfect candidate for our vacant seat," Vasseur said.
However, even though fully backed by his team, it seems that Magnussen has only a one-year deal. Vasseur replied: "Even though it is a long-term project, everyone in the team is concentrating on 2016. It is too early to think about 2017."
Indeed, Renault has a lot of immediate problems to solve, as the hurried installation of its own engine into a car designed by Lotus for a Mercedes power unit has proved troublesome in early testing. "It has been a bit tricky," Vasseur smiled.
"It is because we came so late, but it is a long-term project, so it is not crucial," he explained. "Right now we have some problems we need to solve, but just to have a car ready for when the test started on Monday at 9 o'clock was a huge success for everyone in the team," he added. (GMM)
Bahrain International Circuit - Winter testing