I may have recently stated that Kevin Magnussen needs to come to grips with his station in motorsports. Maybe it was time to give up the F1 dream, maybe. As it turns out I was wrong. Magnussen’s F1 career has gotten a 2nd lease on life with the recent announcement that he will be moving to Haas F1, where he will replace Esteban Gutiérrez. Magnussen had originally wanted to stick with Renault. However the French automaker delayed driver selections to such an extent that Magnussen needed to act or risk being without a F1 ride in 2017.
Haas has impressed in their debut season. Sitting 8th in the constructor’s championship, finishing as high as 5th in Bahrain. Make no mistake Magnussen has speed, problem is he couples that speed with far to many accidents. This ultimately lead to Renault’s hesitation to bring him back. If Haas can couple natural progression with a more disciplined Magnussen they could become a real competitor in F1’s 2nd tier. They will likely never challenge the big 3 of Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull, but I see no reason why they couldn’t be highly competitive with the Williams, Force India and Toro Rosso’s of the world. McLaren is the outlier. They are the one team that could stay status quo, vault into the top-tier or plummet to the bottom. Such is the unknown that is the Honda Power Unit.
On the flip side where does this leave Renault? The French Marque is set to debut a”signifigant” upgrade to their power unit in 2017. Tasked with the driving duties will be freshly signed Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer. Hulkenberg has displayed talent both at Force India and winning Le Mans with Porsche in 2015. Palmer is an up and comer. He has displayed some speed to go alongside a discipline beyond his years. Is this a duo that will vault Renault back to relevance? Only time will tell. Talented drivers can only get you so far. Just ask McLaren. At the end of the day your power unit and chassis make or break you.