Mar.18 (GMM/ Kevin Magnussen has backed Renault’s decision to give new third driver Esteban Ocon some Friday practice outings in 2016.

Ocon, the 19-year-old reigning GP3 champion, is ‘on loan’ to Renault from Mercedes’ junior programme, with Magnussen confirming he and Jolyon Palmer will have to make way in some Friday practice sessions later this year.

“It is not decided yet” which sessions Ocon will do, “but basically it’s cool that Renault gives a young and good driver like Ocon a chance,” Magnussen is quoted by BT newspaper.

And he told another Danish publication, Ekstra Bladet: “I think you have to earn your chances in formula one, and Ocon has done that.”

However, Ocon is very close to new Renault team boss Frederic Vasseur, and Magnussen was signed on a mere one-year contract for 2016.

But Magnussen, 23, insists: “I plan to stay at this team for many years.”

2016 could be a difficult season for Renault, with Magnussen admitting: “There are two things that are essential in formula one – downforce and power – and we are lagging behind in both.”

But he said he is delighted to be back in F1 after the end of his McLaren adventure.

“I was close to giving up on the F1 dream and was starting to make a plan B,” said Magnussen, “and of course that wasn’t nice. But I never gave up completely.”