The Enstone squad have been essentially running a chassis from last year with Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen at the wheel. Renault are expected to look more like a works team in 2017, but who will drive for them?
Renault are willing to keep their current drivers on the edge for a bit longer and have admitted to needing more time to assess the newest additions to the grid, particularly Esteban Ocon. Team Principal Fred Vasseur told Motorsport.com that,
“There is no deadline, we can do it one week before [the test in] Barcelona next year.
For sure, we are probably more focused on young drivers than old ones or more experienced drivers, because we have a mid-term project. I would like to be able to find the drivers of 2020, not the one of 2010.
And if you have a look at the junior [drivers], every single weekend the situation is moving and changing. If you look at the experienced ones, it is not changing, they have delivered in the past and you know exactly what they are able to do, and their skills.
But if you look at the juniors, they are improving or not, they have a new opportunity or not – look at Esteban [Ocon] – and I think it makes sense for me to take time to decide.”
– Fred Vasseur
— Renault Sport F1 (@RenaultSportF1) September 9, 2016
So, where is the stimulus for Palmer and K-Mag in these statements? There isn’t any. Both drivers are doing the donkey work this year and aren’t looking like they fit into Renault’s idealistic picture of the road ahead. Neither driver was going to light up the Championship in the car they’ve been given this year so it’s difficult to comprehend the objectives the team have set for each driver. If Ocon does convert his potential throughout the rest of the season, why would Mercedes (Who own Ocon) be willing to let him go to the French Manufacturer?
— Esteban Ocon (@OconEsteban) September 12, 2016