With the confirmation of Nico Hulkenberg’s seat at the yellow-liveried works team, it is now down to Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen to try and convince the team to retain at least one of them for 2017.
The underlying issue for the drivers this season has been the RS19, an evolution of last season’s Lotus. This year’s campaign hasn’t really given Palmer or Magnussen a complete platform in which to showcase their abilities given the team’s heavy focus on next season. Ahead of the Mexican Grand Prix Weekend, Magnussen said,
“I want to get the most out of the car and achieve the best result possible. We know the level of our car’s performance so we want to get the most out of it at every opportunity. I’ve never driven it but I have studied the layout and watched some on-board laps so I’ve got a good taste for it. It looks good, but you never get a real feel for it until you get out there in the car.
I know that the engineers say it was pretty slippery last year, especially early in the weekend which is what you’d expect for a new facility. It’s going to be interesting to see how much it’s improved over the past year.”
– Kevin Magnussen
That conclusion from K-Mag tells a story. The answer to his finishing statement is “not enough” an both drivers know this. F1 is by no means a charity for professional racing drivers, but it’s fairly unanimous in the thinking that the Dane and the Brit have had to deal with a rubbish deal.
Can you imagine trying to stay motivated for a project that is promising to be 100% better in the future, with resources pouring into 2017, and there being no confirmation that you’d be part of it? Not the best atmosphere to work in. At least at Sauber and Manor, drivers are assured the minimum of absolute effort for this current season.
If rumors are to be believed, Magnussen is the most likely of the current Renault drivers to keep the seat. He edges it for performance over the year. Jolyon Palmer could be using the remaining races to advertise his services to other teams. Ahead of the race, he said,
“It’s got a particularly distinct character with the stadium section near the end of the lap, there’s quite a few fast corners; it’s a good layout. There’s something really special and you feel the atmosphere. [The Stadium] is a very slow section, and to be honest it’s not fantastic in pure driving terms as the corners are some of the slowest on the calendar, but you really feel the buzz of the fans all cheering and that really pushes you along! You go so slowly through there that you can properly appreciate and feel the enthusiasm.
Last year the event was all about the crowd; there were so many people and they were so enthusiastic. On the grid in Mexico was one of the most memorable moments of last season; that and driving through the stadium section – even in FP1.”
– Jolyon Palmer
The Brit has been linked to the vacant Force India seat in the last week, a top drawer performance is required. Beating his teammate will have to be the target.