Renault driver Kevin Magnussen has signed a 2-year deal with the American team Haas in a move that puts an end to lengthy speculation about his future in Formula One.
Both Renault drivers were given no assurances by the team and Magnussen appears to have been quick to snap up the offer to cement his place on the grid in 2017. The news is bad for Esteban Gutierrez, who will have to look to other teams for his services. The Mexican has struggled this season in the shadow of his teammate and hasn’t managed to score points all season.
In the running to partner Nico Hulkenberg at Renault is Jolyon Palmer, although he has been linked closer to Force India’s vacancy. Felipe Nasr is allegedly open to a move after a fairly disappointing season with Sauber as well as the Manor drivers Esteban Ocon and Pascal Wehrlein.
The good news for Haas is that they have two experienced and proven drivers in their line-up. Given that Haas have hit the ground running relative to recent debutantes to the sport, season-two of the Ferrari-powered American project could see Magnussen driving the most competitive car of his F1 career so far.
The Renault RS-19 this year has struggled and the Dane’s McLaren MP4-29 in 2014 wasn’t exactly pinnacle McLaren. Haas have managed 8th in the Constructors and will surely only move forward for 2017.
On the other side of the Renault garage, Jolyon Palmer will have a clear target in beating his teammate. If he is to survive the unforgiving carousel of the driver market, beating K-Mag in the next two races and trying to overhaul the Dane for 16th in the standings has to be the minimum objective. A long shot maybe, but Palmer sounds confident and said,
“I’m feeling good for Brazil as it should just carry on the good momentum that we’ve had in the second half the year. It was a shame not to qualify last time out as we could have shown even better improvement. One of my best grid spots was in prospect, but we made up for it in the race. The race pace has been good for a long time now, qualifying pace has been good too. We had some decent battles with the McLarens in Mexico, so I think we can be pretty confident going into Brazil.
The car is getting better every round still, and I’m driving pretty well and getting more and more out of it, so I think that combined with the fact Brazil is a nice track, means I’m hopeful for a positive weekend.”
– Jolyon Palmer
Of the ten occasions in which both Renault drivers have finished, Palmer has beaten Magnussen on six occasions. It has to be said that both drivers abilities have been slightly suffocated by the lack of performance on the car and also the environment of insecurity perpetuated by the teams aspirations for a future without them.
— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) November 8, 2016