Kevin Magnussen will next week be confirmed as Pastor Maldonado’s replacement at Formula 1 team Renault for the 2016 season, according to several sources.
Reports claim the Danish driver will sign a deal within the next few days and be officially confirmed at Renault’s launch event in Paris next Wednesday. Renault is returning as a team after buying out Lotus.
Magnussen drove for McLaren in 2014 before being sacked by the British team last year. The 23-year-old Dane is returning to F1 four months after being told by McLaren that he was no longer required as reserve driver – reportedly on his birthday.
Dispute opens door
The move follows an ongoing disagreement between Renault and Maldonado’s long-time sponsor PDVSA, Venezuela’s state-owned oil and gas company.
The dumping of Maldonado comes despite the fact Lotus confirmed he would stay on for a third year at last September’s Singapore Grand Prix.
At the time Lotus was in the middle of talks with Renault regarding the takeover deal.
Maldonado has not reached an F1 podium since his win in Spain in 2012 for his former team, Williams. He posted three seventh-place finishes for Lotus in 2015.
Some experts say that Maldonado’s undoing could be due to offtrack issues as PDVSA has been late in making payments.
The late payments have been blamed on the fall in the price of oil and the Venezuelan political situation. A recent visit to the country by the Renault team management failed to resolve the situation, thus opening the door for Magnussen.
Magnussen was last year on a three-driver shortlist to race alongside Maldonado at Lotus, but lost out to Britain’s Jolyon Palmer.