Formula 1: Kevin Magnussen in for Pastor Maldonado at Renault

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Kevin Magnussen driving a McLaren at the 2014 Australian Grand Prix
Kevin Magnussen finished second in his first Grand Prix drive at Australia in 2014

Former McLaren driver Kevin Magnussen is to replace Pastor Maldonado at Renault for the 2016 Formula 1 season.

Dane Magnussen will partner Britain's Jolyon Palmer after the sponsors of Venezuelan Maldonado, 30, failed to make contracted payments to the team.

Magnussen, 23, finished 11th in the drivers' championship with McLaren in 2014 before making way for the return of Fernando Alonso last season.

He operated as test and reserve driver for 2015 before being released.

Magnussen said his F1 career would have been over had he not been picked by Renault.

"This was make or break," he said. "Luckily, I made it.

"This is a massive opportunity because not many drivers get a second chance. I've been given a second chance and a very good chance with a top team. I can't tell you how happy I am."

Maldonado said he felt "proud" of his record in F1 after spending three years with Williams and two with Lotus, the forerunner of Renault.

He won one race, the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix for Williams, but became more widely known for his involvement in numerous accidents and incidents.

Pastor Maldonado in practice at the 2015 Brazilian Grand Prix
Pastor Maldonado finished 14th in the 2015 F1 standings with 27 points

He drove for Lotus thanks to the financial backing of Venezuela's national oil company, PDVSA.

It was contracted to pay $46m (£33.6m) for 2016, but the Venezuelan economy is facing major difficulties as a result of plunging oil prices.

The money did not arrive and Renault decided to terminate his contract.

Maldonado revealed he was leaving in a statement but did not give a reason for his departure, nor identify his replacement.

Renault have refused to comment on the move, saying it would confirm its plans for the season at an event in Paris on Wednesday.

The company will also reveal its 2016 car, its official team name and confirm Frenchman Frederic Vasseur as head of the F1 team.

Vasseur has been the boss of the successful ART GP2 team,

Cyril Abiteboul, a former team boss of Caterham, remains in his more senior position as managing director of Renault Sport.

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