Renault head into the second half of the season without knowing what to do for next years driver line-up. With only a handful of points to show for the season so far, what will the driver line-up stay the same for next year?
During the middle of this month, Renault team principal, Frederic Vasseur told formula1.com that a decision on their driver line-up would be confirmed early next month.
Vasseur praised current drivers Kevin Magnussen and Jolyon Palmer but also denied that they have been making too many mistakes. Vasseur also hinted that the ability to inspire and motivate colleagues could play a key role in Renault’s choice of drivers for next year.
Renault came into this year having just buying the former Lotus team and have been battling to re-establish themselves as a works team.
At the start of the season, Renault looked at their future and labelled 2016 as a “rebuilding” year for the team. A target was set of claiming podium finishes within 3 years.
This says to me that Renault knows the challenges that they will face and will slowly get better throughout the years. But will changing a line-up help then?
Magnussen and Palmer doing the best that they can
Kevin Magnussen saw the drive with Renault this year as a lifeline back into the sport after a difficult year at McLaren in 2014. Magnussen was then dropped in 2015 to make way for Fernando Alonso.
Jolyon Palmer was Lotus’s 2015 test and reserve driver and he took part in several practise sessions. He was promoted to this after winning the GP2 championship in 2014. Palmer was then promoted to Renault for 2016 as the manufacture took over Lotus.
Both have had their share of bad luck but a 7th place in Russia at the start of the season for Magnussen has been the only highlight. Palmer was having his best race of the season in Hungary when he was running in a competitive 10th place. But a spin quickly dropped him out of the point and he ended up finishing 12th.
Magnussen and Palmer have youth on their side along with a bit of experience to help the team but the bad results are only half the problem. Renault currently sit 9th in the Constructors championship with 6 points only ahead of Manor and Sauber. The “banana” looking car isn’t the best on the grid by far but with the same engine powering Red Bull, is the only good thing on the car.
This is still a “rebuilding” year for the team and it is very likely that you will be uncompetitive at times. Haas is a good example as they where amazing in the first couple of races but they have gone backwards since then. This is expected as Haas are a new team and of course in Formula One, you can’t just turn up and start winning straight away.
Ocon; one to watch
Esteban Ocon has been given the opportunity to impress not only Renault but other F1 teams. Ocon is now racing alongside Pascal Wehrlein at Manor replacing Rio Haryanto for the rest of the season. This new line-up of Wehrlein and Ocon could prove to be the most exciting line-up on the grid.
Decision on 2017
I would keep both Magnussen and Palmer for 2017 and see how they would do in 2017. Its unfair to throw both drivers in a uncompetitive car and expect really good results right away. Ocon’s performances over the rest of the season could be the deciding factor in Renault’s line-up for 2017.