F1: Kevin Magnussen returns for ambitious Renault

He replaces Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado and links up with British former GP2 champion and F1 rookie Jolyon Palmer.

AFP| Last Updated: Feb 04, 2016, 00:14 AM IST
F1: Kevin Magnussen returns for ambitious Renault

Paris: Kevin Magnussen was on Wednesday confirmed as a Renault driver as the French manufacturer unveiled their 2016 car on their return to Formula One.

The 23-year-old Danish driver, who finished second on his 2014 debut in the Australian Grand Prix, joins the team after being let go by McLaren in October.

He replaces Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado and links up with British former GP2 champion and F1 rookie Jolyon Palmer, 25.

Renault are back in F1 after taking over the Lotus team 10 years after Fernando Alonso won his second title for them in 2006.

"Since 1977 Renault has won 12 world titles (drivers and constructors) in F1," recalled the car giant's boss Carlos Ghosn at the unveiling at its Technocentre at Guyancourt outside Paris.

Renault relinquished its team to Lotus in 2008 to concentrate on supplying engines, rattling off eight world titles between 2010 and 2013 with Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull.

But the manufacturer felt that despite all that success they weren't being properly rewarded.

"If we only supply engines, we invest a lot but the benefits are few," explained Ghosn.

"The reason that we've returned is first of all marketing. In the next few years, the growth of our group will come from emerging markets like China, India and Brazil, where F1 is one of the most popular sports.

"We must use our presence in F1 to stimulate sales."

Renault's RS16 car will be predominately black with flashes of yellow to mirror the company's corporate image.

Team principal is Frenchman Frederic Vasseur with experienced engineer Bob Bell as chief technical officer.

"We have the budget, the talent, the people. Renault is back to win," said Jerome Stoll, Renault Sport Racing president.

Ghosn echoed that sentiment, declaring: "We are starting with a handicap but we believe we have the talent, the desire and the necessary experience to catch up."

The French firm's return as a full team comes after the acrimonious split with Red Bull which garnered four drivers' world titles in a row but ended after Renault had become angered by the Austrian team's criticism of their engines in 2015.

In taking over Lotus, Renault are essentially buying back the team they had sold to Genii Capital in 2009 and which was renamed Lotus F1 Team for the 2012 season.