There has already been a driver change for the 2016 season, without it having really begun. That is the change of Venezuelan, Pastor Maldonado, departing Renault and being replaced by Dane Kevin Magnussen.
Many may be relieved to see Maldonado exit Formula One, having created a reputation for crashing more into his opponents and accumulating penalties from the race stewards than actually regularly scoring points.
Yet for me it feels like Maldonado has missed a huge opportunity for his Formula One career. He started at a Williams team that had entered a transitional period and eventually left for a Lotus team that had begun to struggle financially which led to key personnel leaving the team, affecting the team’s competitiveness. 2016 therefore was the first real opportunity for Maldonado at a team that now had manufacturer backing and was only going to get better.
Many will feel that it is better for Magnussen to have taken the seat than Maldonado, taking into consideration the differing reputations of the two. Yet it is important to remember that Maldonado, like Palmer, Hamilton, Hulkenberg and Rosberg is a GP2 Champion. He also leaves Formula One a race winner, having won the 2012 Spanish Grand Prix with Williams.
So, although many will see Maldonado as just a pay driver who crashed a lot, a part of me feels he leaves as one of the drivers who failed to realise his full potential.