Renault F1: Palmer and Magnussen confirmed as 2016 drivers

Renault has named Kevin Magnussen and Brit Jolyon Palmer as its 2016 Formula One drivers

British GP2 champion Jolyon Palmer and ex-McLaren Formula One man Kevin Magnussen have been confirmed as Renault’s works drivers for its F1 return in 2016.

The pair were officially announced at an event in Renault’s Technoparc design and engineering faciity on the outskirts of Paris on Wednesday. Palmer had already been confirmed by the Lotus team, which Renault bought out, before Christmas last year.

Maldonado out

His planned team-mate, Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado, was initially in the frame to race for Renault, before sponsorship difficulties put paid to his chances. Palmer is the son of former Grand Prix racer Dr Jonathan Palmer, who today owns the MSV circuit operating firm that runs the Brands Hatch, Oulton Park, Snetterton and Cadwell Park racetracks in the UK.

Both Palmer and Magnussen spent 2015 as F1 test and reserve drivers, for the Lotus and McLaren teams respectively. Magnussen tested a Porsche WEC car late in the the year after being dropped by McLaren, but continued working behind the scenes to secure a full-time return to F1 and was poised to step in at Renault once Maldonado dropped out of contention.

Lotus buyout

Renault confirmed its long-planned buyout of the Lotus team in early December, sealing its return to the sport as a works entrant for the first time since 2009.

At the time, the company’s chairman and CEO, Carlos Ghosn, said: “Renault had two options: to come back at 100 per cent or leave. After a detailed study, I have decided that Renault will be in Formula One, starting 2016. “The final details supplied by F1’s main stakeholders gave us the confidence to accept this new challenge. Our ambition is to win – even if it’ll take some time.”

McLaren reveals its vision of F1 future

It’s been reported that Renault has made a nine-year commitment to the sport. The French brand previously owned the Oxfordshire-based squad from 2002 to 2009, winning the championship with Fernando Alonso in 2005 and 2006.

As part of its initial announcement, Renault expressed disappointment about its current partnership with Red Bull, saying: “The payback as an engine supplier was limited. The return on the investment necessitated by the new engine regulations and the return in terms of image were low.”

For its part, Red Bull will continue to use Renault engines in 2016. However, they will be badged with the name of watch brand TAG Heuer and developed separately by Swiss engineering consultant Mario Illien.

It’s believed the Milton Keynes-based team is continuing to look for a longer-term engine partner for the 2017 season and beyond, while the Red Bull ‘junior’ squad Toro Rosso is set to use one-year-old Ferrari engines for 2016 at least.

How do you think Jolyon Palmer will get on in his first year of F1? Have your say in the comments section below...

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