Reports: Maldonado could lose Renault F1 seat to Magnussen

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Pastor Maldonado’s Formula 1 future is in doubt due to a change in the political landscape of his native Venezuela and economic problems gripping the country that could impact his financial backing, according to reports.

First reported by The Telegraph and since followed up by a number of other publications, Maldonado’s place with Renault in 2016 is uncertain despite the French marque previously confirming that he would be retained following its takeover of Lotus F1 Team.

Maldonado has been backed throughout his racing career by Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, enjoying support from Hugo Chavez until his death in 2013 and incumbent president Nicolas Maduro.

However, due to the worldwide fall in the price of oil and the recent defeat of Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela in the parliamentary elections, the significant funding that Maldonado receives has now been brought into question.

PDVSA is reportedly overdue on its most recent payment, prompting officials from Renault to venture to Venezuela in a bid to resolve the issue and strike a new agreement according to Autosport.

Should the situation prove to be unresolvable, former McLaren driver Kevin Magnussen has reportedly been lined up to take Maldonado’s seat and has already been given a tour of the team’s facility at Enstone.

Magnussen was released from his role as McLaren reserve driver at the end of 2015, and has since tested Porsche’s LMP1 car, the 919 Hybrid, and a Mercedes DTM car, but would jump at a chance to return to a full-time F1 seat should the opportunity arise.

Renault is planning to release further details on its works return to F1 in February ahead of pre-season testing, meaning that its driver line-up will need to be confirmed by then.

Regardless of Maldonado’s future, British driver Jolyon Palmer will make his F1 debut with Renault at the Australian Grand Prix in March after replacing Romain Grosjean following his move to Haas.

SuperMotocross set to introduce Leader Lights beginning with the World Championship finals


In a continuing effort to help fans keep track of the on track action, SuperMotocross is in the process of developing and implementing leader lights for the unified series.

Currently Supercross (SMX) utilizes stanchions in the infield that are triggered manually by a race official. At least two stanchions are used in each race as a way to draw the eye to the leader, which is especially useful in the tight confines of the stadium series when lapping often begins before the halfway mark in the 22-bike field. This system has been in place for the past two decades.

Later this year, a fully automated system will move to the bike itself to replace the old system. At that point, fans will be able to identify the leader regardless of where he is on track.

The leader lights were tested in the second Anaheim round this year. An example can be seen at the 1:45 mark in the video above on the No. 69 bike.

“What we don’t want to do is move too fast, where it’s confusing to people,” said Mike Muye, senior director of operations for Supercross and SMX in a press release. “We’ve really just focused on the leader at this point with the thought that maybe down the road we’ll introduce others.”

Scheduled to debut with the first SuperMotocross World Championship race at zMax Dragway, located just outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 3D carbon fiber-printed LED light will be affixed to each motorcycle. Ten timing loops positioned around the track will trigger the lights of the leader, which will turn green.

SMX’s partner LiveTime Scoring helped develop and implement the system that has been tested in some form or fashion since 2019.

When the leader lights are successfully deployed, SuperMotocross will explore expanding the system to identify the second- and third-place riders. Depending on need and fan acceptance, more positions could be added.

SuperMotocross is exploring future enhancements, including allowing for live fan interaction with the lights and ways to use the lighting system during the race’s opening ceremony.