AUSTIN, Texas – Neither Kevin Magnussen nor Jolyon Palmer wants to leave Renault Sport F1 Team in 2017, but with Nico Hulkenberg’s confirmation in the team next year coming last week, one of the two incumbents will be forced aside.
It’s been a challenging year for the team in its first year back in works guise after Renault took over Lotus, but to their credit, both Magnussen in his second year and Palmer in his first have made strides as the year has gone on.
Results haven’t necessarily shown in though, as they’ve only amassed a combined eight points from three different scores. Magnussen has a seventh and a 10th, Palmer a single 10th.
Inadvertently, this now means the two of them are racing each other for one seat. Or, as Palmer described to reporters on Thursday, “I think there’s probably, in my opinion, probably three drivers down for one seat.”
Magnussen, who’d already sought to deny IndyCar rumors swirling around him for 2017, continued to mention his desire to stay with Renault during Thursday’s FIA Press Conference.
“I hope I can stay on as his teammate. That’s my target and that’s what I hope is going to happen,” Magnussen said.
“And hopefully it won’t be too long before we will be able to announce what’s going to happen – either/or – so we’ll just do this race and focus on driving and enjoying my time in the car and we’ll see what happens.”
If there’s any consolation or help, the bright side for Magnussen at least is that he’s been in this situation before. He waited to see whether he’d be retained for another year at McLaren in 2014, before ultimately losing out on the spot to Fernando Alonso once he rejoined the team.
Palmer said though this is a different situation, because either he or Magnussen hope to know their fate sooner rather than later, instead of having to hold out until December. He estimates a decision will come in the next two to three weeks.
“It may look similar at the moment but it’s a different team, different management. It’s still not that late in the moment,” the 2014 GP2 Series champion explained.
“We still have four races to go. I don’t want to be taken until the end of the year and then realize I’m going to be let go. It’s in my hands to assess my options. As I see it here, there are some other seats around, so I’ll have to do what’s best for me.”
Palmer said neither he nor Magnussen has been getting the credit they deserve for fighting back given the tough moments this year.
“I think neither of us is getting enough credit, to be honest. Kevin has done some great racing as well and proved in 2014 what he can do in a good car. He finished second in his first race when the car was there to finish second, he outqualified Jenson over the course of the year,” he said.
“And now, two years on, we’re both struggling because the car’s not really there. He’s done a good job this year and probably lost a bit of credit from where he was in 2014. I think neither of us have probably not gotten the credit we deserve. And that’s proved by the fact that at least one of us is going to be replaced. The car has been tricky and I think neither of us has done well. We’ve both made mistakes, but at certain points we’ve done a good job.”
The Englishman said he’d heard at Suzuka that the Hulkenberg signing was forthcoming, but was only thrown by the timing of when things would be announced.
There’s also been rumors that Valtteri Bottas is in the frame for the second seat at Renault, but the current Williams
“I understand that stick or twist is meaning if I stay with Williams or not,” Bottas said. “We’re going to still need to wait a little bit to get things confirmed about what’s going to happen next year.”