Renault is a “happier” team than McLaren-Honda, even though they may be fighting over the same piece of track in 2016.
That is the view of Kevin Magnussen, who was dropped by McLaren at the end of last year and signed up for 2016 by Renault’s new works team.
With McLaren apparently still struggling with its works Honda power, and Renault having taken over the near-collapsed Lotus at the eleventh hour, many insiders are tipping that the teams may be similarly competitive – or uncompetitive – this year.
But Dane Magnussen says the atmosphere in the respective camps is markedly different.
“There is a big difference,” he is quoted by Spain’s laf1.es.
“The first thing you notice is that the people at Renault seem happier. The atmosphere is more positive and people have faith in the team.
“When I was at McLaren, the team was down, but Renault is a team on the rise and you can notice how that affects the people,” added Magnussen.
However, he insists that while he was unceremoniously dumped by McLaren, he bears no grudge.
“I still talk to some people at McLaren,” said the 23-year-old. “I have no problem with them. There are very few people at McLaren I have trouble with.”
Another man who might be forgiven for bearing ill feelings about McLaren is Dave Ryan, who has returned to F1 this year after an absence with Manor.
Formerly McLaren’s sporting director, Ryan was sacked in 2009 amid the ‘lie-gate’ scandal, involving a controversial meeting between the stewards and then team driver Lewis Hamilton.
“I’ve a completely clear conscience about what happened at McLaren and that didn’t enter my mind for a second when I agreed to join Manor,” he told The Sun.
Honda’s struggles means Manor, a backmarker with the title-winning Mercedes engine this year, could actually be racing the famous British team in 2016.
“Of course, if we can compete with them (McLaren) occasionally then it would be fantastic,” said Ryan, “but the reality of the situation is they ought to be at the front end of the grid.
“McLaren is a bit of a sleeping giant at the moment. They haven’t had a good few years and last year was particularly difficult, but they’ve got the potential to get it right.”