It is official, Venezuelan driver Pastor Maldonado will now be replaced by Dane Kevin Magnussen for the Renault team after losing his PDVSA (Venezuelan government-operated oil company) due to falling oil prices, as well as “domestic politics.” though media sources had already confirmed that Magnussen’s place on the team was a done deal (if not yet fully signed off), Maldonado chose to preempt any official announcements by Renault regarding the switch at a launch in Paris on Wednesday, by putting out his own statement in Spanish via his personal Twitter feed.
In closing, he thanked his fans for their support, and wrote, “I confirm my feelings of gratitude to God, my family, my sponsors, my friends, my fans and all who have helped realize this great dream of being able to represent Venezuela to the pinnacle of motorsport.”.
Maldonado won the 2010 GP2 Series championship before joining F1 and was the first Venezuelan to win a Formula 1 Grand Prix when he took the Spanish GP for Williams in 2012 after starting from his first pole position.
However, he seems to have gained more notoriety during the past few years for his high rate of accidents including crashing during testing at Catalunya last March after his brakes failed. He then crashed out of the Australian Grand Prix when Felipe Nasr hit him at the 2nd corner of the 1st lap. He had just passed 3 cars at the start of the race and was in 6th position.when forced to retire. The next incident occurred in the Malaysian Grand Prix when his car suffered a puncture after he was hit by Valtteri Bottas. In addition, Maldonado he was given a 10-second time penalty for speeding behind the safety car. The infraction cost him 3 points on his licence, bringing his tally to 8 within the previous year.
Later in the year, Maldonaldo suffered another braking issue that caused him to go off-track when entering the pits during the Chinese Grand Prix, at the Shanghai International Circuit and he had to be recovered by the marshals, only to end up in a collision with Jenson in a braking zone on lap 49. Once again he was forced to retire.
The hits kept coming last season. Maldonado parked his car in the wrong grid slot at the start of the Bahrain Grand Prix, and he was given a 5-second time penalty. Then he was hit by Max Verstappen on the 1st lap, as well as by Felipe Massa’s car.
At the Spanish Grand Prix Maldonado was hit by team mate Grosjean, who had just returned to the track after missing a braking point, and at the Monaco Grand Prix, Maldonado was again forced to retire after he and Verstappen collided on the 6th lap, and so forth.
Still, Maldonado was ready to race for the newly reorganized Renault team (now owned by Lotus) alongside Jolyon Palmer this year until news hit that he lost the seat to Magnusson this week.
Kevin Jan Magnussen, 27, is the son of 4-time Le Mans class winner and former Formula One driver Jan Magnussen and Britt Petersen. He was a member of the McLaren Formula One team’s Young Driver Program until last October, and drove for McLaren in the 2014 Formula One World Championship, before becoming the reserve driver for McLaren-Honda, after being replaced by Fernando Alonso, alongside Jenson Button. However, Magnussen competed at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix, when Alonso was ruled out on medical advice due to a concussion.