MARCH 29, 2016
Dane backs Magnussen after Palmer defeat
A countryman of F1 returnee Kevin Magnussen has defended the Dane's performance at the recent Australian grand prix.
Jolyon Palmer, a rookie and Magnussen's teammate at Renault, has been quoted as saying out-qualifying and then beating the former McLaren driver to the chequered flag on debut is a boost to his confidence.
But Jason Watt, a Dane and former F3000 driver, told Ekstra Bladet newspaper that he thinks therefore declaring Briton Palmer the Renault team leader on the basis of Australia is wrong.
"Renault regards its drivers as equals -- it is unnecessary to have one of them as the leader," he insisted.
"Right now I see Kevin as better than Palmer anyway. It was a minor driving error that cost Kevin in qualifying, but at all other times he was faster," Watt added.
"The most impressive for me was Kevin's ability to run fast and reliably on worn tyres, which was not his strength in 2014," he said, referring to Magnussen's single season with McLaren two years ago.
"In the last part of the race I think Kevin showed what the difference between the two drivers really is -- I think he was 0.3 to 0.5 seconds faster than Palmer on an average lap," added Watt.
But he also warned that Magnussen and Palmer have a bigger picture to think about in 2016, as Renault regards the season as a building year for the future.
"The problem for both of them is that one of them will probably have to make space (in 2017) for Esteban Ocon, who is really fast," said Watt.