F1 2017 Pre-Season Report: Renault
Ahead of the opening race of the 2017 Formula One season in Australia on March 26, we take a look at how each team is shaping up for the new campaign.
Here we assess Renault's chances of success.
HOW DID THEY PERFORM IN 2016?
Renault struggled for performance in their first season back in F1 as a constructor, managing just three top-10 finishes over the course of the campaign.
Kevin Magnussen picked up points in Russia and Singapore, while Jolyon Palmer finished 10th in Malaysia, with only the now-defunct Manor and Sauber keeping Renault off the foot of the constructors' standings.
THE 2017 LINE-UP
Renault moved quickly to secure the signing of Nico Hulkenberg from Force India and the German will be aiming to avoid the dubious honour of becoming the most experienced driver never to have achieved a podium finish this season - he currently sits 13 starts short of compatriot and current record holder Adrian Sutil. While victory may have evaded him over the years, Hulkenberg is a consistent performer and finished in the points on 14 occasions last season, equalling a career-best ninth-place finish in the drivers' championship.
Palmer may count himself lucky to have retained his seat after Renault appeared to favour Magnussen, who eventually left for Haas citing a "lack of commitment" from the Enstone-based outfit. The Briton's performances did improve marginally towards the back end of last year, scoring his first F1 point in Sepang, but he will be under pressure to justify his position from the first race this time around.
THE TO-DO LIST
- With Manor no longer in the picture, the fight to stay off the bottom of the constructors' standings promises to be fierce this season. The long-term goal may be to compete for world championships once again, but any form of stride towards the midfield would represent success for Renault in 2017.
- Get Hulkenberg onto the podium! That man is too good and too experienced a driver not to have achieved a top-three finish in his career so far. One suspects his wait may stretch into 2018, though.
HOW WILL THEY FARE?
Pre-season testing was not without its issues for Renault but with a driver of Hulkenberg's calibre they should be optimistic about surpassing last year's performance. They are unlikely to bother any of F1's big hitters, but they should have the likes of Haas, Toro Rosso and the troubled McLaren in their sights.