Renault’s boss Cyril Abiteboul has clarified that the team need two drivers capable of scoring points if they want to compete in in the Constructors championship against Williams and Haas.
Nico Hulkenberg has scored all of Renault’s 18-points so far this season, his best result so far a 6th place finish at the Spanish Grand Prix. Hulkenberg is renowned for outperforming the car, and his ability to find himself within the top ten often this season is credit to that, but from a team perspective, having two drivers who can show up on the day matters the most.
Williams were in a similar position to Renault until the Canadian Grand Prix, when Lance Stroll secured his first F1 points. Stroll’s points in Canada don’t mean that he’s all of a sudden going to be in the same league as Massa every race weekend.
The same has to be said of Jolyon Palmer, who is having a frustrating season with Renault so far. Two 11th place finishes in the last two races see’s him painfully close to the points, but if he registers another 11th, he might have suffered the curse of Esteban Gutierrez and his fate may be similar.
Concerning the need for both drivers to deliver, Abiteboul commented,
“No one is safe in F1. F1 is not an environment where anyone can say loudly, ‘I’m safe’. To a certain degree there are two questions. There is Jo, and there is a second driver. Right now my focus is on Jo. Jo has to deliver.
What would happen then, I don’t want to elaborate on that, and even further, who would be stepping in, because that’s absolutely not the point for today.
The fact is that Jo has a car which is a point-scoring car, and he has to enter into the points. Full stop. I would hope that by the summer break I would be able to leave on holiday in sixth position in the championship.”
– Cyril Abiteboul
Could it be any clearer? Score points or keep the seat warm for a Robert Kubica return. With the links between Alonso and Renault floating around, it wouldn’t be out of the question to imagine Alonso moving to Renault this season if the McLaren-Honda keeps failing to get to the chequered flag. Given that the Spaniard has regularly found himself well into the top ten with Honda power, he would surely be able to match Hulkenberg at Renault and give the French Manufacturer the best possible position for the Constructors standings this season.
There is the other route, one in which Palmer suddenly starts bagging results and matching the performances of his team mate. However, this public comment from his boss adds extra pressure, and that usually equates to mistakes. The comment from Abiteboul isn’t quite the dreaded “vote of confidence”, but it isn’t a world away from that either. It is clear that Palmer is running out of time to perform.