By Joshua Mason
Magnussen is a name which would send a shiver down any Monk’s spine, Kevin, not so much. In Formula One however, the young Dane is returning and is hoping that this time his impact will be as big as his ancestors, as he tries to pillage the drivers’ standings.
The son of a Le Mans driver, Jon Magnussen, Kevin had a clichéd yet impressive rise to Formula One. He started out in karting and worked his way up the ranks of the formulas. He had been on the McLaren youth development programme until 2015.
His exciting future lead McLaren to choose him to replace Sergio Perez in 2014. It seemed to be a good decision when Magnussen ended up with a second place finish in his first race in Melbourne. He had finished third, but second place Ricciardo was disqualified for car irregularities. This was the best finish of a débutante since Jacques Villeneuve in 1996.
Unfortunately, Magnussen could not build on this success, and finished the year with only one podium and 55 points. His highest finish after Melbourne was a fifth place in Russia. His lack of form horribly coincided with Fernando Alonso becoming available, and McLaren demoted him unceremoniously at the end of the season. 2015 was a very quiet year, and even when an opportunity seemed to evolve with Alonso’s concussion issues, his chance to put himself in the shop window failed when the car failed.
When Magnussen went looking for a new seat, McLaren said it would help its former protégé, but Magnussen claims this was not the case. Instead he found himself missing out on a place with the new Haas F1 Team. When all looked lost, a contract breach by Pastor Maldonado resulted in him claiming his seat and he only signed the contract the day before Renault’s launch.
Renault will be hoping that his inner warrior will overcome any lack of experience, but considering the other driver is a débutante in Jolyon Palmer it’s putting a lot of pressure on already insecure shoulders.
Renault are placing much on the re-entry to the sport. The marketing opportunities as well as the chance to take any technology across to its road cars is the aim for the French car giant. They also want to build up their brand of their sport ranges. Renault is still providing their engine to Red Bull for one more season, but I am sure they will be hoping that they can turn their franchise into an all-in-house car like Ferrari.
Their goal will be to challenge not only in the driving standing, but the constructor’s championship too. Magnussen showed signs of weakness when he suggested that Renault should be patient for success. But this is understandable, for a driver who just needs someone to believe in him for a few years to build some momentum and trust. The Dane will have to maraud through the pack and outdo what he achieved in 2014 as although he may have been given a chance again, if it does not go well this time, then this will definitely will be the last season for Kevin Magnussen.