The announcement that Kevin Magnussen is set to replace Pastor Maldonado at Renault for the coming season, seems like a victory for: persistence, hard work and common sense!
In theory the decision would seem a little unfair, Maldonado has five years experience in formula 1 and an excellent victory at the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix to his name. Where as Magnusson has one year under his belt after a less than spectacular season with Mclaren.
In practice the decision is the correct one however. Maldonado became more synonymous for his regular on track collisions than on track brilliance and ultimately earned himself the nickname “crashtor Maldonado.” In the end he became a total liability with other drivers nervous in his presence when jostling for position, a feeling that was justified following many high profile collisions involving some of the sports best drivers.
How did he remain in the sports best formulae for so long? Venezuelan oil money is the honest answer, Maldonado reputedly brought £30 million per season with him for the privilege of crashing, sorry driving a formula 1 car. With global oil prices presently at their lowest for sometime, Venezuela’s economy is struggling and can no longer justify paying this astronomical sum for very little return.
Magnussen is solid, if a little dull but he will get the most out of the technology at his disposal and the Renault sponsors will contentedly view their product logos displayed on a car actually moving and not one ploughed into the side of a barrier. He was demoted to Mclaren reserve driver at the end of 2014 and dropped altogether in 2015. But his resilience has paid off and he deserves his second chance.
One of the sports most exciting images over the previous five years was Maldonado, who had started from pole position, desperately attempt to squeeze the fast starting Alonso into the grass at the Circuit de Catalunya in 2012. Alonso would beat him into turn one at that race but Pastor brilliantly won it. For a man who performed so well that day, his career should have offered more. But eventually he had far too many bad days and crazy scenarios than the odd moment of brilliance. Therefore Renault have done the right thing by terminating his contract. I imagine all the drivers along the grid will breathe a huge sigh of relief.