It’s no secret that Renault have shifted a great deal of attention to the 2017 campaign already in an attempt to become a competitive works team. The Enstone-based team are promising a better performance at Spa, but it’s unlikely they’ll score any points.
The last two races in Hungary and Germany have highlighted the Renault RS16 in a much more feisty and relevant light. Jolyon Palmer was on for his first points finish at the Hungaroring only to throw it all away with a damning half-spin, his hard work undone in a single moment.
Kevin Magnussen was one of the highlights of the German Grand Prix, the performance of his car allowed him to pull off some great attacking maneuvers.
But Spa will be predominantly about Mercedes power, and there even teams that are running other power units that are ahead in the pecking order for points. A mark of progress for Renault would simply be the ability to stay within the midfield for the whole race. Along with Sauber and Manor, Renault were backmarkers at the start of the year, so finishing just outside the points at Spa would provide a platform to work from for the rest of the season.
Technical chief Bob Bell doesn’t sound like he’s expecting miracles either. He said,
“[Spa] will be difficult for us, but the work we have done in the last races should stand us in good stead,” Bell said. We’ve got a better handle on car balance and I think we should be able to keep our current level of performance.
We’ve not got a major upgrade, but we should see the progress made in the last two races transfer forward to Spa.
We fought with Haas and Toro Rosso and I think we are capable of getting on their tails again. There will be some developments coming through that were scheduled to come on stream in the second part of the year so even though our focus will primarily be on 2017 after the shutdown, we should still be able to improve upon our current level of form.”
– Bob Bell
The big losers in this situation are Renault’s current drivers. Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen have been left out to dry. The team are primarily focusing on next season in which neither current driver can certify their race seat. Time is running out for both drivers and of the nine remaining races on the calendar, Spa isn’t looking like the place to gain interest from other teams.