There is speculation in Denmark that Kevin Magnussen has been busy in recent days, having discussions with unnamed Formula 1 teams about possible employment in the future. It is not clear what the former McLaren driver is up to, but on paper there are only two drives available: the two seats at Manor. There are a number of drivers looking to see what can be done there, but the signs are that the drives (at least one of them) will go to the highest bigger and the more money one driver brings, the easier it is for the team to take on a non-paying driver. Thus, for example, if Indonesia’s Rio Haryanto were able to bring the kind of money that is being talked about from his government, there might be a possibility of a Haryanto-Magnussen pairing. On paper the Manor-Mercedes ought to be a very decent car. It has a Mercedes engine and the technical team under Technical Director John McQuilliam looks to be quite useful. In June, rather quietly, the team hired a new head of design in Luca Furbatto. He was chief designer at Scuderia Toro Rosso from 2012 to 2014, leading the design teams of the TR7, TR8 and TR9 cars. Prior to that he had a long history at McLaren between 2001 and 2011, where he started out as head of stress analysis and materials. Prior to that he was at Toyota for a year, but started his career with a two year stint with Tyrrell/BAR. It is something of a Catch 22 situation for the team because it needs money, but it might earn more money if there is a better driver racing the car. There are a number of drivers who are being linked with Manor, including Will Stevens and Alex Rossi.
There has been some speculation that Renault might be looking for a better driver line-up, but it is also believed that both Pastor Maldonado and Jolyon Palmer have already provided sponsorship. Such monies could be returned, but that would be expensive. However, Maldonado’s situation is clouded by the political upheavals in his native Venezuela, where the opposition has taken control of Congress after winning the recent elections and is not aiming to bring in a great deal of reform. The leader of Congress said a couple of days ago that it is looking to “recover our autonomous power, pass laws of amnesty and national reconciliation and look within six months for a constitutional, democratic, peaceful and electoral means of ending the administration” of current President Nicolás Maduro. Maldonado’s support comes from the national oil company PDVSA, but this is currently losing huge sums of money because of the low price of oil.
It may be that Magnussen is discussing longer-term arrangements, which would give him a reserve driver role in 2016 and then a race drive in 2017.
The word is that Kevin has some funding from the Bestseller AS clothing firm, which owns a string of fashion brands, notably Jack & Jones.